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Plans for a new restaurant in a long-vacant but high-profile Theater District address moved ahead Thursday when a city agency issued a key approval. The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency owns the Market Arcade complex, and the agency’s board voted to allow restaurant owners to participate in a state grant program and make modifications to the former home of the Ya Ya Bayou Brewhouse.
Restaurateur Jay Haynes is leasing 619 Main St. and is planning to open Perfetto, a 260-seat, high-end steak, seafood and pasta establishment. Transforming the restaurant is estimated to cost $100,397, and Haynes is being helped by a $35,000 state grant obtained by Buffalo Place.
Haynes had hoped to be open in time for last month’s start of the fall theater season, but he said Thursday that he is waiting for a liquor license.
Construction isn’t finished either.
“If we knew that the liquor license was coming next week, this place would be packed full of construction workers and contractors,” Haynes said.
He expects to be open in the next four to six weeks, but that is dependent on the State Liquor Authority.
The Italian steakhouse will feature an extensive wine selection, live music and space for private parties.
“We really can’t wait to get the opportunity to get out here and showcase what we’re doing,” he said.
Buffalo Place received $500,000 from New York’s Main Street program, administered by the Homes and Community Renewal agency, to enhance the 600 block of Main Street, also home to Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
“It will be an active storefront in the Theater District,” said Debra L. Chernoff, manager of planning with Buffalo Place. “It’s what we need.”
Haynes, who owned Jay’s Hilltop Bistro in Angola until it closed Sept. 1, has a five-year lease, with two five-year renewal options.
The space has been vacant for seven years.
“I think it’s going to be a great addition,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
The urban renewal agency’s board hasn’t met in months, and Thursday’s meeting addressed just two items, the other having to do with finalizing the 2005 environmental remediation at Waterfront School.
The agency has in the past voted to distribute funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, but federal funds from the current fiscal year have not flowed to the city. HUD notified the city in June that it must change the way it handles grant funds, and those changes are still being worked out.

email: jterreri@buffnews.com