Business invests more than $2 million to renovate historic property with the support of Downtown Revitalization Initiative

OLEAN — Empire State Development (ESD) on Monday announced the substantial completion of renovations on the Old Library Restaurant and event center in Olean, creating a unique regional destination for visitors. The project also includes the future expansion of a day spa in an adjacent Victorian era home, which currently serves as an inn. The $2 million-plus investment is expected to result in the addition of up to 65 employees.


“Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is creating new opportunities across New York – transforming communities, creating jobs, and bringing back a sense of hope and pride,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “With support from the DRI, Olean is reimagining its future, bringing back historic buildings, and investing in the downtown streetscape to improve safety and walkability for pedestrians and bicyclists. The renovated Old Library Restaurant and Event Center will help to draw more visitors to Olean to support continued economic growth in Cattaraugus County and Western New York.”


“For more than 100 years the Old Library has been a gathering place for residents,” said Daniel and Kathryn DeCerbo, Old Library Restaurant and Inn owners. “It will be our pleasure to extend this tradition and attract new visitors to Olean. We are thankful for the support of New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which helped make our unique and inviting renovations possible.”


Extensive improvements have been made to the interior and exterior of the former Carnegie Library, an architecturally significant landmark located at 116 South Union Street. The Beaux-Arts style library, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, was built in 1909 with $40,000 provided by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The interior features a grand stairway and entrance, large rooms and a central atrium. Renovation of the current Old Library Restaurant and adjacent Inn includes improvements to the exterior and interior of restaurant which encompass, but are not limited to, lighting, flooring, atrium, bar/lounge, dining, mezzanine, kitchen and bathroom areas. Exterior improvements include landscaping of both properties and additional renovation of the Inn at 120 South Union to include a future expansion of a float spa.


The success of The Old Library project will be measured by increased bookings of events, banquets, overnight stays and return on investment. In addition to providing jobs, the owners are supporting the local economy by featuring local artists and musicians and purchasing produce and meat from local farms.


Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “The Old Library’s new chapter, made possible by the DRI, will contribute to Olean’s goal of a vibrant downtown that will make residents proud and introduce visitors to all the region has to offer.”


Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “The completion of the Old Library Project exemplifies how Olean is capitalizing on the Governor’s DRI program to create a thriving downtown community for residents and visitors to enjoy.”


The Old Library received a $719,500 DRI capital grant to expand its business, create jobs and increase tourism to the Olean area. The project supports the following DRI strategies:


Promotes the restoration and adaptive reuse of heritage buildings to accommodate new and expanding businesses.


Establishes a destination restaurant, event center and boutique inn in the heart of the downtown to better support tourism and visitation.


Complements and leverages the planned improvements to Lincoln Park, which is directly across Union Street, and reinforces the area around the Union Street/State Street intersection as the civic and cultural heart of downtown.


Creates up to 65 new employment opportunities in the downtown district.


Leverages adjacent DRI-proposed projects including South Union Streetscape.


Elevates the importance and momentum of downtown’s renewal and resurgence and signals this to other potential downtown investors.


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the Downtown Revitalization Initiative in 2016, a $100 million effort to improve the vitality of urban centers across New York State. Downtown Olean was selected as a Round Two DRI winner for Western New York, receiving $10 million based on the strength of its vision for downtown renewal. Olean’s vision is to make the city vibrant and residents optimistic about opportunities to work, to learn and to thrive in Olean, with a special emphasis on retaining younger and college-educated residents. A renewed commitment by the city and numerous public and private partners to revitalize Olean has resulted in key investments downtown, including the redevelopment of the historic Manny Hanny Building and several other major mixed-use buildings.


WNY Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and Buffalo State College President Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner said,” The REDC recognizes the vital importance of our Downtown districts to the continued growth and future development of the entire region. Projects such as the Old Library are helping to reinvigorate the heart of Olean. By investing in the character and authenticity of Olean’s downtown the DRI is helping the community capitalize on its assets and enhance the urban opportunities for businesses, residents and visitors.”


Senator George Borrello said, “Today marks another milestone in realizing the transformation of downtown Olean into a thriving cultural destination and economic engine for the region. The state’s investment of DRI funds, combined with the DeCerbo’s incredible vision and determination, have given new life to the Old Library – a historic gem that was a beloved gathering place for generations. As a restaurant and event center, this beautiful building will bring residents and visitors to the heart of Olean, stimulating the economy and adding a new chapter to the legacy of this proud landmark.”


Assemblyman Joseph Giglio said, “This is the kind of project that energizes a community, and we look forward to all of the good things that are going to happen as a result. Innovative ideas like this are a key to success for communities. It is wonderful to witness the repurposing of the historic Carnegie Library, which has been a center of activity since it was built in 1909.”


City of Olean Mayor William J. Aiello said, “We thank Governor Cuomo for selecting Olean as a DRI recipient. We are pleased to attend the ribbon cutting for one of our most dynamic DRI projects. Thanks to the remarkable renovations, this great old building will serve the community as a unique restaurant for years to come.”