As the recipients in Round 2 of New York state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) continue to be announced, work is underway for the municipalities that received $10 million each in Round 1.
There are many ways the winning cities can use the grant funding, which is designed to breathe new life into downtowns across the state as a catalyst for new business, increased employment and attractive, affordable housing.
Round 1’s award criteria was based on (1) community’s ability to define what constitutes the downtown area, (2) determination of the community’s ability to support a year-round downtown, (3) sites that are able to capitalize on prior, or catalyze future, private and public investment, (4) recent or impending job growth in the surrounding area (5) characteristics of the downtown to attract diverse populations of all ages, including millennials, (6) ability to create and implement policies to increase livability and quality of life, and (7) have sufficient public and community support to be able to implement their strategic plan.
Communities selected in Round 1 were:
Capital Region - Glens Falls
Central NY - Oswego
Finger Lakes - Geneva
Long Island - Westbury
Mid-Hudson - Middletown
Mohawk Valley - Oneonta
NY City - Jamaica
North Country - Plattsburgh
Southern Tier - Elmira
Western NY - Jamestown
All ten of the Round 1 recipients have had their winning projects announced by Governor Cuomo during the summer of 2017. A review of these projects revealed some commonalities including numerous projects for:
(1) streetscape improvements
(2) building demolitions/renovations/restorations
(3) planning/marketing program funds
(4) revolving loan/grant funds for downtown businesses and façade improvements
(5) broadband improvements
(6) arts/food/tourism projects, and
(7) parks/public spaces/signage/pedestrian access projects.
Here is a summary review of each recipient community’s projects:
Capital Region - Glens Falls: Improvements to South Street fresh foods Market, relocation of SUNY Adirondack Culinary School downtown, adaptive re-use of two buildings and creation of a pocket park on South Street corner, streetscape improvements, establishment of One Mile Public Arts Trail, installation of high-speed broadband infrastructure,, creation of a revolving loan/ grant fund and construction of a new park with green infrastructure.
Central New York - Oswego: West First Street Building mixed-use/commercial redevelopment, Harbor View Square mixed-use development on an under-utilized waterfront brownfield site, demolition of the Midtown Plaza, restoration of historic Buckhout-Jones building, transformation of historic Cahill Building into upscale housing, creation of a new pocket park on Water Street and an indoor water park, renovations to the Children’s Museum, completion of the downtown West Gateway project, establishment of a revolving loan/grant fund, streetscape improvements and Riverwalk make-over.
Finger Lakes - Geneva: Pedestrian access improvements between downtown and lakefront, streetscape enhancements, renovation of historic Dove Block building, development of public marina, establishment of Lake Tunnel Solar Village, restoration of Patent Block building, Five-Point road improvements to improve pedestrian safety, establishment of a fund to encourage historic renovation, repurposing of vacant theater into a micro-brewery, improvements to Smith Opera House, downtown broadband infrastructure improvements, installation of new gateway signage, and upgrades to the five-point intersection in the city to make it more pedestrian friendly.
Long Island - Westbury: Creation of a pedestrian plaza to improve the connection between downtown and the LIRR station, streetscape improvements, zoning update to promote TOD, allow for mixed uses and encourage density near the LIRR station, creation of a loan fund for retail capital improvements, purchase and develop open space to support new housing and retail development, provide a permanent location for the Westbury Arts Council and upgrades to the Westbury Recreation and Community Center complex.
Mid-Hudson - Middletown: Transformation of the Woolworth Building and linkage of the downtown to the Heritage Trail ( to be renamed Rail Trail Commons), creation of a façade and storefront signage financing program, streetscape improvements, development of Erie Way Park, development of a downtown branding program, and parking and public green space improvements.
Mohawk Valley - Oneonta: Construction of a new mixed-use building on the Westcott Lot, establishment of a revolving loan fund for small business and micro-grants for business signage, grants for upper-story building renovations, new transit hub and parking garage renovations, establishment of pedestrian walkways (Muller Plaza Passage and Water Street Boardwalk), improvements along Market Street and South Main Street, downtown district signage project and development of a branding and marketing program.
New York City - Jamaica: Creation of a shared 10,000 SF workspace to be made available for entrepreneurs and professionals at the Moda Building, strengthening of downtown high-speed broadband capabilities, conversion of Archer Archways - 159thStreet into a public space, downtown Jamaica Gateway improvements, establishment of a Restaurant Startup Fund and incubator space for new food businesses at the Jamaica Market, expansion of Prime Skills Entrepreneurship Fund to help low-income residents launch or grow businesses, and purchase of new equipment and software for career prep classes at Edison Career and Technical Education High School.
North Country - Plattsburgh: Durkee Street Mixed-use development project, creation of a food incubator and shared commercial kitchen, enhancement of riverfront amenities to strengthen the connection to downtown, preparation of an RFP to attract developers for the Dock Street Waterfront District, downtown streetscape improvements, grant fund for residential, retail and hotel improvements, development of an Art & Innovation Studio at the Strand Cultural Center, implementation of a marketing/branding/signage strategy and Strand Center Capital Improvements and Marketing and Branding.
Southern Tier - Elmira: West Water Street Mixed-use development, rehabilitation of Lake Street pedestrian bridge and Centertown Parking Garage, creation of Clemens Square, improve and upgrade Riverfront Park to include an elevated boardwalk, renovation of vacant and underutilized buildings in downtown, reconfigure public parking on West Water Street, modernize the City’s zoning code by adding a new Form-Based Overlay district, and establishment of a revolving loan fund for small businesses.
Western New York - Jamestown: Redevelopment of the Key Bank building into a mixed-use building, conversion of the former Ramada hotel site into a Hilton DoubleTree in order to return a full-service hotel to downtown, enhance public space along the Chadakoin riverfront, redevelopment of the Jamestown Renaissance Center into the home of Jamestown Brewing Company, rehabilitate the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts into a modern arts facility, installation of necessary rail infrastructure to support the advancement of a regional excursion train connecting Buffalo and Niagara Falls, upgrades to the Robert H. Jackson Center and to the Lucille Ball Little Theater of Jamestown, improvements to streetscapes and pedestrian environments and coordination of local efforts to provide all-season programming to the city.
Work will continue on these downtown projects with funds from the $10 million DRI grant to be dispersed over the next five years. For more detailed information about each community’s winning project, go to https://www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative and view the Round 1 communities’ link at the bottom of the page.