Waterloo developer has big plans for downtown

When Lee Bieber formed Waterloo New York Restoration and Revitalization it was a culmination of events that added up perfectly. Bieber did not seek out Waterloo – rather downtown Waterloo found him. He recalls the timing of the shopping center in downtown Waterloo going on the market, and noticing that for the number of tenants present in the building – it was an incredible value. Bieber insists that he never envisioned owning a majority of the downtown building, or owning a significant number of properties in the village itself – it simply happened.Our conversation on Inside the FLX on FingerLakes1 TV revealed a lot about a man, who the public has seen very little of to this point. Shortly before going on-air, he pointed out that this was the first time he had been sought out – and asked to do a direct interview, like the exclusive 30-minute interview we had him in-studio for. There are a lot of things that can be said about Bieber, as he continues to plug away at a development project that many never gave a chance at success. One new restaurant having already opened where the Green Apple had previously lived – called West Main Kitchen – which only recently opened. Another called Stan’s, which is fittingly named after his father – who started the business more than 50-years-ago that has afforded him the opportunity to do what he does today – is slated to open next.It isn’t just food, though, and that has been a major sticking point for Bieber. He pointed out that while downtown settings can’t compete with major chains or super centers in volume – they can definitely compete in terms of quality, and uniqueness. That is a major reason why West Main Kitchen uses exclusively local products, instead of the national – or chain alternatives many restaurants have come to count on today. Offering something different is a distinct piece of the puzzle for Bieber, and the revitalization of downtown Waterloo.Bieber commented on the importance of having a great team and repeatedly gave credit to those who have helped him get Waterloo to where it is today. The restaurants, incoming art gallery, and even the potential wine co-op where Save-a-Lot used to be are just a few of the things that he said repeatedly would not be possible without the people around him.Perhaps one of the more interesting notes from the interview came when he vocalized support for the Lago Resort & Casino. While he said he understood some of the societal concerns people have – from an economic standpoint – it can do nothing but help the area. He also quelled the rumors that he had anything to do with the reduction of 5&20 in downtown Waterloo from four-lanes to two-lanes.The thing you gain from talking to Lee Bieber is the understanding that this is a person who isn’t driven by the usual things. He’s passionate about the things he’s doing downtown, but he is doing them in a methodical, and logical way to avoid some of the financial pitfalls that frequently challenge undertakings like his. In addition to that, he has a personality that is capable of taking a project of that mass and turning it into something manageable.For those looking to reach out to him with questions of their own – he urged residents to reach out to him via email here. In case you missed it, here’s the full interview on Inside the FLX from 12/10/15…Story by Josh Durso for FingerLakes1.com

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