On May 14, 2021, 39 transformational projects in the New York communities of Fulton, Seneca Falls and Niagara Falls were announced, as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award each of them received.
The 16 projects in Fulton and 13 projects in Seneca Falls will enhance waterfront amenities, repurpose existing buildings to develop new residential and retail spaces, and support small businesses and industry. The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for Central New York and the Finger Lakes.
Fulton – Central New York Region
Fulton was named a Round 4 winner in August 2019. Fulton’s award will leverage the city’s historic downtown waterfront and the economic drivers found in Fulton’s health, service, and manufacturing industries and its innovative entrepreneurs to enhance the city’s natural and cultural attractions. These investments will enhance amenities along the waterfront, support small businesses, reactivate commercial and industrial properties, and enhance public trails and healthcare offerings. This will create an improved quality of life, new downtown living, retail, restaurants, entertainment, and job opportunities.
Fulton projects funded through the initiative will:
- Expand Oswego Health’s Essential Services – $2,000,000: Bring additional medical services to downtown Fulton through the expansion of Oswego Health’s Fulton campus.
- Revitalize a Vacant Building on the Former Nestle site – $1,500,000: Renovate and re-purpose an abandoned building on the old Nestle site into a mixed-use development. Proposed uses include 55 to 65 residential units, office space, restaurant and a Nestle museum.
- Develop a New Manufacturing Start-up Facility on the Former Nestle Site – $860,000: Build a new facility on the former Nestle site to attract and expand advanced start-up manufacturing businesses.
- Create a Business Assistance Fund to Provide Resources and Financial Support to Encourage Downtown Revitalization – $750,000: Establish a grant fund to help local businesses with building upgrades, permanent equipment purchases, and technical assistance.
- Strengthen Infrastructure of Building & Machinery at Major Manufacturing Facility – $420,000: Undertake facility and infrastructure upgrades at the Huhtamaki manufacturing campus to maintain jobs, enhance streetscapes, and improve pedestrian safety.
- Raise the Roof on Arts and Entertainment in the Heart of Downtown Fulton – $352,000: Make improvements to the CNY Community Arts Center by leveling the roof over the south side of the building to match the existing Mezzanine roof level, creating new usable space for expanded activities, and completing on-site sewer repair work.
- Create a Downtown Vibe Through Multi-Site Improvements – $185,000: Undertake renovation and expansion activities at six commercial locations in the center of Fulton’s downtown: Canalview Mall, Cayuga St Café, Dizzy Block Brewing, Empire Drone Company, Fulton Family Medicine Renovations, and Tavern on the Lock Expansion.
- Restore and Transform an Abandoned Historic Building into an Inn and Café – $140,000:Transform a historic vacant building located at 181 S. 1st Street into Kings Road Inn, a 4-to-6 room inn with cafe and coffee lounge.
- Provide Fast Casual Food Choices in Downtown Fulton – $137,000: Undertake interior and exterior renovations of a vacant building to create a counter service restaurant with a globally influenced menu. The site will include an outdoor patio and drive-thru pick up window.
- Redevelop a Commercial Building in the 481 Gateway Corridor – $112,000: Rehabilitation of a strip mall visible from the gateway for new and existing tenants. New tenants to include barber shop and beauty supply store.
- Enhance the Beauty and Functionality of Fulton’s Waterfront for Residents and Visitors – $1,713,000: Modernize and enhance the waterfront area and Canal Landing Marina to create a premium destination and attraction for boaters, visitor and residents, while establishing a strong connection to the core downtown area.
- Construct Multi-Use Walking Trails within the DRI Boundary – $820,000: Complete construction of the Pathfinder Canal Towpath Trail on the east side of the Oswego River, install decorative uplighting on the Broadway and Oneida Street Bridges, and add new fencing to the Oneida Bridge.
- Update and Energize the Library to Improve Accessibility and Create a Cultural Destination for Residents and Visitors – $311,000: Undertake improvements to the historic Fulton Public Library to create new outdoor public spaces and improve safety. Work will include rehabilitation of two emergency staircases, rehabilitation of two chimneys, and construction of two outdoor meeting areas with a connection to the trail system.
- Upgrade Internet Services in the City of Fulton – $200,000: Provide reliable high-speed internet for local businesses and residents through installation of fiber optics and Wi-Fi infrastructure.
- Implement a Community-Supported Downtown and Historic Marker and Signage Program – $100,000: Promote downtown Fulton attractions including, but not limited to, the historic district, Pathfinder, Towpath and Canalview trails, and CNY Arts Center.
- Update the City’s Zoning Code to Allow for Infill Mixed-Use Development Along South 1st Street – $100,000: Update the City’s zoning code and design guidelines for the DRI area, and specifically along South 1st Street, to support and attract new development that is consistent with the vision for the downtown.
Seneca Falls – Finger Lakes Region
Seneca Falls was named a Round 4 winner in November 2019. Downtown Seneca Falls is a walkable community centered around Fall Street and the Sackett District, both of which cater to residents, businesses, museums, and visitors. With a highly motivated and educated workforce, an active business community, and easy access to the Finger Lakes, the hamlet is on the cusp of a historic revitalization. These projects will enhance historic and cultural assets, improve waterfront amenities, and support small businesses, tourism sites and related infrastructure. These investments will serve to encourage additional investment, boost the impact of surrounding projects, and help support downtown economic development initiatives.
Seneca Falls projects funded through the initiative will:
- Establish the National Women’s Hall of Fame as a Destination – $1,000,000: Renovation of the iconic smokestack, installation of new permanent exhibits, and construction of a code-compliant elevator and external stairwell for access and expansion to the second, third, and fourth floors for additional museum space to enhance historic cultural destination.
- Transform It’s A Wonderful Life Museum – $912,000: Museum expansion to include structural stabilization of the building, façade renovation to reflect its historic appearance, enhanced accessibility, and improved signage. Expansion is the first phase of expected multi-phased improvement.
- Activate the State Street Station – $605,000: Renovate the former historic train station into a full-service Italian restaurant and banquet hall.
- Establish a Building Improvement Fund – $600,000: A building improvement fund will be established to provide grant funding for downtown building owners to support interior and exterior building improvements.
- Reinvigorate the Gould Hotel – $405,000: Renovation of hotel’s first floor including lobby upgrades, conversion of the restaurant into a dual-purposed café & gastro-cocktail lounge and relocation of the bar.
- Renovate the Historic Huntington Building – $400,000: Repurposing of the historic Huntington Building into a 50-unit affordable residential complex. Half of the units will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for veterans.
- Launch Culinary Arts Studio and Apartments – $400,000: Renovation of two downtown buildings for a ground floor hands-on culinary arts studio and conversion of vacant upper floors into affordable housing units.
- Create Residential Units at the Finger Lakes Health Institute – $400,000: Conversion of the vacant second floor classrooms of the former St. Patrick’s School into 10 affordable residential units in the mixed-use facility.
- Renovate the Daniels Block – $253,200: Conversion of the vacant third floor space in the Daniels Block into five new accessible residential loft units that will be serviced by a new three-stop elevator.
- North Canalside Enhancements – $3,690,000: People’s Park improvements including new pathways and decks overlooking the canal; burying utility lines and providing better access to the canal from downtown.
- Improve the Heritage & Information Center of Seneca Falls – $533,082: Provide upgrades to the Heritage and Information Center including façade improvements, updating permanent interior exhibits, installation of a new elevator and renovations to boater spaces.
- Enhance Community Recreation – $324,000: Installation of ‘street league’ obstacles to the Seneca Falls Skate Park and an ADA-compliant kayak launch at the Community Recreation Center.
- Enhance Ludovico Sculpture Trail – $177,718: Installation of a new gateway entry plaza, upgrading the trail surface to be accessible to all, and the addition of descriptive sculpture plaques.
Both communities developed a strategic investment plan to revitalize their downtown areas with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million award. Local planning committees made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The strategic investment plans examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.
City of Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels said, “These investments in the City of Fulton will help transform the downtown area and support small businesses. I’m grateful for the Governor’s continued support of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which will help Fulton come back stronger in its recovery from COVID-19. I am excited to see how the projects announced today help to revitalize the community, support our small businesses and foster economic growth.”
Seneca Falls Supervisor Michael Ferrara said, “The projects selected for Seneca Fall’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative will provide a boost to the entire community and region. By investing in our significant cultural assets, supporting small businesses and creating new housing opportunities, Seneca Falls will be well positioned for the future. I look forward to seeing these projects come to life.”
The strategic investments in Niagara Falls will strengthen small business, support private investment in underutilized buildings, and bring new residential units, commercial space, and a hotel to the historic Bridge District. The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for the Western Region.
“The investments we are making in Niagara Falls as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative are a key part of our focus on building New York State back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul added, “As a Western New Yorker and frequent visitor to Niagara Falls, I know the city is a critical economic asset that has so much to offer. Through our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are building on Niagara Falls as a world-class tourist destination to create more economic opportunity and further transform the community into a great place to work, play, and raise a family.”
Niagara Falls was named a DRI Round 4 winner in August 2019.The Bridge District, formerly known as North Main Street or The North End historically served as the downtown shopping district for Niagara Falls. Today the District is being reborn with revitalization including the recently completed intermodal train station, new connections to the waterfront and cultural attractions. The DRI will capitalize on and complement these improvements, as well as the Robert Moses Parkway Removal project, by supporting the creation of green space, the construction of streetscape improvements with lighting and traffic calming measures, which will help to support planned private investment in the downtown. Additional projects will strengthen small business, support private investment in underutilized buildings, bring new residential units, commercial space, and a hotel.
The specific projects to be funded through the Niagara Falls DRI include:
- Establish Academic Innovation Hub – $1,100,000: Development of an academic and community space for Niagara University. The facility will include professional workforce training, job promotion services, English as a second language programs, urban development and planning, small business development, early childhood care, and an eSports lab.
- Transform 1810 +1812 Main Street into Boutique Hotel – $700,000: Renovation of two vacant buildings on Main Street into a mixed-use development with retail space and boutique hotel rooms.
- Implement a Small Project Grant Fund – $620,000: Establish and implement a capital improvement grant program for small-scale building improvements throughout the DRI area.
- Renovate 2025 Main Street into Mixed- Use Development – $500,000: Renovation of the existing 9,900 SF building to enhance the convenience store, add one retail storefront on Niagara Street on the first floor and create apartments on the two upper stories.
- Redevelop 2002 Main Street into Retail and Office Space – $400,000: Renovation of 2002 Main Street into a mixed-use building with first floor retail and community space as well as modern office space. The first-floor community space is available for community gatherings.
- Create an Outdoor Eating Space and Museum at DiCamillo Bakery – $250,000: Creation of a small museum and gallery space, an outdoor dining area, sidewalk and landscaping improvements at DiCamillo Bakery. Includes purchase of state-of-the-art equipment to expand production.
- Implement Streetscape Enhancements on Main Street – $3,720,000: Streetscape enhancements along Main Street including sidewalk improvements, replacement of street trees and street furniture, as well as the conversion and replacement of light poles on Main Street to LED.
- Complete Implementation of the Freedom Plaza and Overlook – $1,500,000: Site improvements adjacent to the Suspension Bridge to create a plaza/event space and an overlook to the Niagara River connecting to the trail system and Whirlpool Street. The plan also includes an 18-space parking area for visitors and interpretive artwork and signage.
- Launch Public Art and Placemaking Initiative – $615,000: Public art mural installations on seven properties within the DRI area to enhance placemaking and the public realm.
- Create a Public Plaza on Main Street at Cleveland Avenue – $295,000: Create a plaza and event space, inclusive of public art, movable furniture, special paving, and landscaping in front of the Public Safety Building.
Niagara Falls developed a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan for Niagara Falls examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “I’m grateful for the Governor’s continued commitment to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative with the selection of these dynamic projects for Niagara Falls. These projects, which were chosen with a great deal of community input, will infuse new life into the community by investing in our cultural and historical assets to ensure our residents and visitors can continue to enjoy these for years to come.”
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
As long-time REVITALIZATION readers are well aware, it was back in 2016 that Governor Cuomo launched the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Through the DRI, the Governor moved to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment in all ten regions of the state. The DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.
Unfortunately, it never included training in creating an actual revitalization process, so most recipient communities have been stuck largely in project-by-project mode, not realizing the return on investment (ROI) that a complete process would bring.
Photo of Niagara Falls, New York via Pixabay.