Considering the possibilities: Local nonprofits tour former Cristina's location
At least a half dozen local nonprofits showed up for an open house this afternoon at the former Cristina's Restaurant and Lounge building on Ellicott Street.
Owner Chuck Brumsted says a total of 15 groups have contacted him about a possible donation of the fire-damaged property.
Brumsted, who's still in Florida, wanted to give nonprofit leaders a chance to see the site, taking stock of both its potential and the work that needs to be done to fix it up.
Genesee ARC, GCASA and GCC were among the groups represented today.
For Genesee ARC and GCASA, both organizations are looking at a potential business location to give clients a chance to get work and entrepreneurial experience.
Maryann Arena from the GCC theater program said she was there to check out the possibility of a downtown theater location. It could give students a chance to learn about a variety of theater production techniques -- bringing more young people downtown in the process.
Pam La Grou, representing GCASA said the site might give her agency's clients a chance to learn how to start and run a business, perhaps a coffeehouse.
"We're just in the exploratory phase," she said.
For Genesee ARC, the location represents the chance to open a retail location for the products the agency's clients produce, from pet beds to baked goods.
"We're always looking for more space," said ARC's Donna Saskowski.
The property obviously needs a lot of work to become something any organization could occupy, and all of the non-profit representatives said that's certainly a consideration before deciding to make a formal application to get ownership.
Saskowski said that Genesee ARC also realizes there are a lot of resources in the community to help reduce costs, such as possibily using the property as an opportunity for construction students at BOCES to practice their trade.
"We certainly have to invest and that is the give-and-take," Saskowski said. "We have to look at the cost per square foot to remodel. It would be an investment. And could this be an investment that we could free up other facilities, or turn another facility over, perhaps that we’re leasing or something like that. It certainly takes a lot of study."
Brumsted said today that given the range of potential applicants for the property, "It's going to be a tough choice."