By Jann Wiswall

If the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery, Ellicottville could be proof. For the last several years, and especially in 2014, the town and village has seen growth in new housing developments, existing home sales, new businesses, investments in existing businesses, tax revenues and infrastructure investments. Here are some examples of what’s been happening over the past year.

Ski Area Investments

Both Holiday Valley and HoliMont ski resorts spent the off-season on improvements to make your skiing/boarding experiences ever better.

Holiday Valley invested $3.4 million on new snowmaking equipment and connecting trails, constructed a stone clock tower and bridge outside the main lodge and more. It also invested heavily in its four-season appeal with additions at Sky High Adventure Park, decking around the pools, golf course enhancements and renovations at the Inn at Holiday Valley.

HoliMont spent some $650,000 on improvements, including $250,000 in snowmaking equipment and $100,000 to install catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions at the power plant per new EPA requirements. It also made chalet improvements and purchased new generators, snowmobiles for staff and machinery upgrades.

Festivals and Events

Ellicottville’s many festivals and events continue to draw ever bigger crowds into the area all year long, and 2014 was no exception. Signature spring, summer and fall events such as the Summer Music Festival, Americana Folk Art and Music Fair, Jazz and Blues Weekend, the Taste of Ellicottville, Rock N’ Roll Weekend and Fall Festival continue to grow, filling hotel rooms well in advance. And Holiday Valley and HoliMont both bring in even more visitors every winter for their many events that benefit dozens of non-profit organizations and great causes.

New & Improved Dining Options

It’s been a major year of growth and change for Ellicottville’s expanding restaurant community.

Cadillac Jack’s closed its former seasonal location and moved to a new location on Monroe where it will be open year round beginning in January. The new Slopeside Bar & BBQ restaurant opened in December at Cadillac Jack’s former site at Route 219 and Holiday Valley Road.

Dina’s restaurant underwent a major expansion into the vacated space next door, allowing it to expand dining and bar seating as well as private dining space for larger parties.

Hamburg, N.Y.’s famous Armor Inn just opened its second BBQ restaurant on Mill Street in the Village Centre to great reviews.

The cozy Katy’s Café, which is a popular meeting spot for yummy breakfast and lunch, is opening another location in Great Valley which will be open for dinner as well. The expansion also makes it possible for owner/chef Katy Arena expand her cake design and catering business.

Over the summer, Madigan’s and Balloons each constructed additions at their locations.

And, plans are underway for a new French bistro in the Ellicottville Inn Condominium building, with an eagerly anticipated opening next spring or summer.

New Residential/Vacation Communities

Several new residential communities in Ellicottville are in various stages of planning and development.

At 16 Martha St., developers are renovating the former American Locker business’s vacant buildings to create an 18-unit rental apartment complex called EVLofts.

42 Degrees North, a luxury, single-family-home vacation community off Poverty Hill Road, is being built by Canadian developers who expect to break ground on roads next spring.

One of Ellicottville’s most historic buildings — the 1887 Schoolhouse building at the corner of Jefferson and Washington streets — has been purchased by developers who are restoring the exterior of the building to its finest. They expect to turn the property into a 7-10 unit condominium with underground parking.

Two new housing developments are being planned on Fillmore Street: the Glendale project, a proposed townhouse community with nine homes (18 units) on the east side; and the Sprague project, a proposed 19-lot, single-family home subdivision, on the west side.

The Glen Burn Trail townhome development at 6422 E. Washington St. is moving along with construction of what will eventually include 38 units. Several have been sold and are already occupied.

EllicottVillas, at 6394 East Washington St., offers luxurious, 3,000-plus square-foot townhomes with heated garages for sale as vacation or year-round residential properties.

And, closings on 21 of the 31 available lots for single-family homes at HoliMont’s WestMont Ridge are under way as homeowners begin work on their architectural plans. In addition, 18 new condominium buildings with four units each (72 total) that will be located at the base of the Sunset area are in the design stages. HoliMont expects to begin pre-construction sales of the condos this winter.

New Retail/Services

Ellicottville’s newest spa opened to great reviews at the intersection of W. Washington St. and Route 242 (next to Betsy’s Consignments). The Ellicottville Salt Cave offers exfoliation treatments, salt massage and halotherapy, or salt therapy, which has been popular in Europe for many years.

At 34 E. Washington, the do-op Gear Shop opened to give Ellicottville sports enthusiasts access to high-end, specialized sunglasses, helmets, hats, clothing and other sports accessories.

In addition, there are plans in the works for a new fitness center, a new dog grooming business and a distillery with tasting room, all with target opening dates in 2015.

Local Government Projects

The town of Ellicottville has functionally completed a large and important water project that will alleviate water pressure problems throughout the area, improve fire hydrant performance and allow expansion efforts for public safety and development. The project required installing a new water tank on the east side of Ellicottville and connecting water lines throughout the town, village, WestMont Ridge in Mansfield and Snow Pine in Great Valley.

The water project completion means that the village can get started on a $4.9 million wastewater treatment plant in 2015. The new plant is part of a consent order placed on the village by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and involves extensive electrical upgrades, new equipment and new systems. Ultimately, the new plant will upgrade the aging system the area currently relies on and will provide for future development.

At the Ellicottville Central School, you can now see construction progress on the $9.8 million renovation project that includes a new multi-purpose gymnasium, renovation of 10 high school classrooms, repair of the elementary school’s ventilation systems and more. In January, the school board will be asking district voters to decide whether or not to earmark an additional $925,000 for a smaller capital project that involves replacing two major roof areas and completing several projects that were cut from the original renovation project due to cost.

The New York State Department of Transportation began work on a multi-faceted road and sidewalk project in 2014 that includes improving drainage and constructing a new sidewalk along Route 242 S from HoliMont to the village. To date, most of the drainage and curb work has been completed. The DOT also plans to improve handicapped ramps at several village intersections and to reconfigure the difficult intersections at Route 219/Elizabeth Street/Fillmore Drive. Originally, the entire project was scheduled for fall 2014 completion, but due to a number of factors, it is now scheduled to be completed sometime next year.

Recreational Trail Support Grows

Broad community support continues to build for the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail — a traffic-free route ultimately running from the intersection of Routes 219 and 242, past the Nannen Arboretum, through the village, HoliMont and Holiday Valley, and into the Town of Great Valley. Fundraising and grant writing continues.

All signs are pointing to a great 2015 for Ellicottville, too, as whispers of additional growth and more new businesses abound! Stay tuned to these pages for news all year round!