BUFFALO, N.Y. — Community leaders and business owners on North Fillmore Avenue have been working on improvements for quite some time now, thanks to funds that come from the Buffalo Billion, and now they’re proud to show off some of the area’s improvements.

"The idea here is for us to turn this into an attractive business district,” said Community Action Organization (CAO) president L. Nathan Hare.

He says the CAO wants to make Fillmore into a strong, walkable community. Eventually, Hare hopes Fillmore will be desirable enough that people will naturally make their way over to the neighborhood from the Martin Luther King Park area.

About a year ago, those efforts included finding businesses who wanted to rehab their old and deteriorating buildings.

The catch: They had to front the money first, and then the Better Buffalo Fund would reimburse up to 75 percent of the expenses.

The owner of Frank's Express Tire, Fakhri Hamideh got his check today.

"It's very rare that you ever get...you know, you pay for something, an improvement on your own business, and they refund you the money back,” Hamideh said. “And when I heard that…I had to go. I had to come here and apply, and sure enough, it was actually true.”

Six other businesses took advantage of the state money, investing in new facades or new roofs.

Express Tire is among the businesses that got a new roof.

Duane Madyun’s building, which is home to both his own business and a mosque he leases space to, also shows significant improvements.

“I'm very proud,” he said.

Ansar Fragrances and More, Madyun’s business, used to look run down, and it had bars on the door and windows. Today, it has new paint, new molding, and most notably, the bars have been removed.

"They feel welcome. They feel safe, and it convinces others. He doesn't have any bars, either,” he said.
Madyun was referring to the Fillmore-Utica Food Mart across the street, which also showcases a new facade and new roof from last year.

"We also try to build a personality for the neighborhood, so this is primarily a black neighborhood,” Hare said.

That's why Fillmore now boasts empowering banners on its street lights, which show iconic black figures.

The Everything Main Street grant funded these additions to the neighborhood.

Hamideh, who has operated his business on Fillmore for six years, said he’s seen huge growth since he first came to the neighborhood.

"I absolutely love it. I see nothing but good for Fillmore, to tell you the truth,” Hamideh said.

Have an East Side Success story suggestion? E-mail Erica Brecher at erica.brecher@wgrz.com.