Albany, New York is spending their $10 million revitalization prize on 12 transformative projects for historic Clinton Square

On July 24, 2019, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced 12 transformative redevelopment projects for Albany‘s historic Clinton Square neighborhood as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award.

The strategic investments in Clinton Square will enhance the neighborhood’s role as the heart of the Capital Region and highlight the area’s natural landmarks and attractions, events and entertainment, and thriving arts scene. The investments are part of the Governor’s ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for the Capital Region.

These targeted investments in Clinton Square will help strengthen the neighborhood’s role as a historic gateway to the heart of the capital city,” Governor Cuomo said. “By investing in the infrastructure, affordable housing and business community, we can help attract even more new businesses, residents and visitors to Albany.

As previously announced in the October 15, 2018 issue of REVITALIZATION, Albany’s Clinton Square neighborhood was named a DRI Round 3 winner in September 2018. The City of Albany will focus on making Clinton Square a welcoming gateway to the capital city. This compact and walkable area, rich in history, arts and cultural assets and within easy reach of the Hudson River, is where five city investment zones converge.

Albany’s historic Clinton Square neighborhood is a gateway to our capital city, and these investments will ensure the community can advance significant revitalization projects,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Funding as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will support projects that enhance the arts, culture, and history of the area – including an event venue along the Skyway, affordable housing, and streetscape improvements for pedestrians. The DRI is creating lasting change in our downtowns with new jobs, businesses, and housing as part of our ongoing efforts to boost local economies across the state.

Clinton Square is now poised to become a thriving gateway district and distinctive hub that connects and catalyzes activity downtown and in the Warehouse District. The momentum will spread into the Arbor Hill and Sheridan Hollow neighborhoods through public infrastructure enhancements, private project development and exciting arts and entertainment investments.

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Strategic investments in Downtown Albany’s Clinton Square Neighborhood, made through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, will help transform and revitalize part of the city’s urban core by creating the infrastructure and vibrant places where people want to live and work.

The City envisions revitalizing Clinton Square to benefit both visitors and residents through infill development, corridor enhancements, and targeted housing revitalization projects.

The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:

  • Improve the Pedestrian Experience along Clinton Avenue: Improve the visual appeal, function and safety of the Clinton Avenue streetscape leading to Clinton Square. The project includes the design and construction of streetscape improvements and pedestrian safety enhancements from Broadway to North Hawk Street within the DRI boundary. The design will feature a neighborhood gateway element, sidewalk and bicycle improvements, pedestrian lighting enhancements, tree planting and landscaping, new traffic signals, street furniture or other amenities, trash receptacles, and other potential infrastructure enhancements. ($2,818,010)
  • Create Live, Work and Exhibition Space for the Capital Region Artist Community: Construct the Clinton Square Studio, a six-story, mixed-use building at the corner of Broadway and Livingston consisting of 70 affordable live/work lofts exclusive to artists and ground floor retail and community spaces. The development will house performers and crew for the local Capital Repertory Theatre, attract artists from across the region, and provide a gallery and event space drawing visitors to Clinton Square’s emerging entertainment scene. ($2,000,000)
  • Activate the Skyway with a Dynamic Linear Pop-Up Park: Construct a dynamic venue, Albany Happening, for pop-up events, rotating vendors, and active public use along the future Skyway. The Skyway is a transformative public realm project that will convert an underused ramp from Quay Street to Clinton Avenue into a distinctive linear park connecting downtown to the Hudson Riverfront. Located at the Quay Street ramp, this venue will build on and contribute to the Skyway’s activity, drawing residents and tourists to the DRI area. Among the improvements will be pavers, lighting, seating, landscaping, and electric and water service. ($1,100,000)
  • Create the Clinton Market Collective at Federal Park: Renovate Federal Park to allow for the creation of a new market concept and proving ground for start-up businesses. The activities proposed by this project – diverse pop up retail, installments by local artists, signature events and enhanced pedestrian connections – anchor Clinton Square’s role as both an engaging destination and an introduction to unique and vibrant local arts and commercial venues. ($1,000,000)
  • Create a Distinctive Gateway to the New Skyway: Create an artistic, signature gateway to the Skyway, a new linear park connecting downtown to the Hudson Riverfront. The Skyway Gateway, to be located at the I-787 exit ramp at Clinton Avenue, will include a decorative shade structure, pavers, lighting, landscaping, and a seat wall to create an iconic introductory moment to the park. ($800,000)
  • Enhance Connectivity and Pedestrian Safety throughout Quackenbush Square: Create an attractive, landscaped pedestrian corridor with improved sidewalks and crosswalks from the Quackenbush Garage to the Palace Theater. Improving landscaping, lighting, seating and wayfinding in Quackenbush Square and enhancing the pedestrian corridor between the proposed new parking garage entrance and Broadway will lead to a better resident and visitor experience with enhanced connectivity and safety, connecting potential DRI investments at the Quackenbush Garage, Federal Park, Palace Theatre, and the Capital Craft Beverage Trail at the Pumphouse. ($650,000)
  • Redesign Key Pedestrian and Vehicular Corridors for Safe and Stimulating Use: Design and install streetscape improvements along key pedestrian and vehicular corridors on Steuben Street, Columbia Street, and Livingston Avenue. The streetscape design will feature sidewalk and bicycle improvements, pedestrian lighting enhancements, tree planting and landscaping, street furniture or other amenities, and trash receptacles. ($400,000)
  • Light Up Livingston Avenue with an Illuminated Pedestrian Underpass: Illuminate the Livingston Avenue railroad bridge underpass with artistic lighting features to enhance pedestrian safety and create an inviting entrance on Broadway. ($250,000)
  • Add a Vehicular and Pedestrian Entrance to Quackenbush Garage: Construct a second entrance-only access point from Montgomery Street to the Quackenbush Garage, facilitating increased and safer access to the Palace Theatre, Quackenbush Square, the numerous dining and retail options in Quackenbush Square, and the future Skyway. The additional entrance will increase the garage’s entry capacity by 50 percent during off-peak hours and 33 percent during peak hours. ($250,000)
  • Provide Additional Units and Pathways to Stable, Affordable Housing at Ida Yarbrough Homes: Develop up to 10 new home ownership units at Ida Yarbrough Homes to provide pathways to home wealth-building and home ownership for lower-income households and contribute to the area’s vitality, cohesiveness, and shared sense of communal ownership. ($200,000)
  • Create Room for a Local Coffee Company to Grow into Its First Standalone Café: Construct a two-story building at 71 Livingston Avenue as Death Wish Coffee Company’s first standalone branded café. The building will include street-level café space with outdoor seating, a retail component, and a tasting room. ($160,240)
  • Animate Clinton Square with Four Large-Scale Murals: Commission, complete, and promote four large-scale mural projects on highly visible walls within Clinton Square. These murals will add character and visual interest to an important gateway to downtown and improve walkability by continuing the landscape of public art into Clinton Square. ($71,750)

Albany 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.

Capitalize Albany Corporation President Sarah Reginelli said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the City of Albany has a neighborhood that will soon be the envy of the entire region. From improved streetscapes to fostering centers for arts and culture, the revitalization of Clinton Square will truly be a showcase for the city and bring additional visitors, businesses and residents.”

The Strategic Investment Plan for Clinton Square 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.

The DRI projects are the latest example of Governor Cuomo’s ongoing commitment to Albany and the Capital Region.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “With these projects, Albany is catapulting into the future and welcoming future generations of New Yorkers. The reformation of Clinton Square through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will be a sight to behold. Through smart investments in projects that will have tangible results, we are giving the neighborhood a chance to become a real urban center.”

Featured photo of Clinton Square via Google Maps.

See Downtown Revitalization Initiative website.

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