On April 24, 2018, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched the third round of his transformative Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), investing $100 million into 10 additional downtown neighborhoods across the state. In its third year, the proven-successful investment will boost local economies and foster vibrant neighborhoods that offer a higher quality of life in every region of New York.
“We have seen firsthand the excitement and transformative nature of these investments–turning downtowns into economic engines for their communities and beyond,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new round of funding will provide these downtowns new opportunities to rebuild for 21st Century needs and foster growth that will be felt across the entire region.”
The Governor’s $100 million DRI is a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to transform vulnerable, vacant or forgotten areas of the state into livable, walkable, dynamic neighborhoods.
“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has given communities across the State the opportunity to spearhead local projects that will grow their downtowns and boost the economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the Regional Economic Development Councils. “I’ve visited many cities that were awarded funding as part of Rounds 1 and 2 of the DRI, and they’re moving full speed ahead with exciting plans that will transform their areas. As part of the initiative, we’re promoting smart growth strategies and transit-oriented development, which is in increased demand from New Yorkers across the State. The investment in Round 3 of the DRI will give even more communities the resources they need to pursue these collaborative and innovative projects.”
One community in each of the ten Regional Economic Development Council zones will be selected by the REDC to receive a $10 million investment following an application process and thorough evaluation of each downtown’s potential for transformation. Applications for the third round are due June 1, 2018. Regional Councils will weigh eight criteria to select nominees:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The municipality, or the downtown’s catchment area, should be of sufficient size to support a vibrant, year-round downtown;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
- There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
- The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, including existing residents, millennials and skilled workers;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years.
Once a community is selected by the REDC, a Local Planning Committee, comprising local leaders, stakeholders, and key government officials is established to oversee the development of a strategic plan for downtown revitalization. The LPCs’ work is supported by experts from the New York State Department of State and New York State Homes and Community Renewal. DRI funds will be used to implement projects recommended by the LPCs, and should reinforce and secure additional public and private investments within and near downtown neighborhoods to build upon growth spurred by the Regional Councils.
The new round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative draw praise from many local leaders, especially the mayors of the recipient ccommunities:
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a showcase of New York’s community spirit. Through collaboration and innovation, local leaders are creating plans that revolutionize how their neighborhoods can thrive and prosper. I am proud to usher this important program into its third year and look forward to the competition to come.”
Edward Bartholomew, President and CEO of EDC Warren County and administrator for the Glens Falls DRI said, “The City of Glens Falls is greatly appreciative of Governor Cuomo’s innovative upstate urban policies with programs such as the DRI and Restore. This round one DRI grant is providing Glens Falls with a much-needed boast by undertaking a variety of projects which are creating vibrancy, additional resources and opportunities for investment and growth for Glens Falls and Warren County.”
William J. Barlow Jr., Mayor of Oswego, said “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative provides communities throughout New York State the opportunity to reimagine and reinvent their downtown area. The DRI has been transformative for the City of Oswego and has positioned our community to thrive for years to come. I commend Governor Cuomo for continuing the DRI and appreciate his commitment to providing local municipalities with the opportunities and resources they need to grow and evolve as we work to attract millennials, create jobs and capitalize on our natural assets.”
Brian Tobin, Mayor of Cortland said, “Cortland is in the planning stages of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant award from round 2, and we are pleased with the process and the outcome. For our application, we pulled together a diverse group of people from our community to help bring forward the best ideas. After receiving the award, our local planning committee had valuable assistance from the State and consultants to continue to develop and refine the potential projects. This process has been a great opportunity for our community to come together and envision a bright future and adding the funding to make it happen. Governor Cuomo has allowed local upstate leaders to make important decisions about our future community’s growth and development.”
Ron Alcock, Mayor of Geneva said, “Winning the Downtown Revitalization Initiative has stimulated public infrastructure projects focused on making downtown public spaces and the connection to the lakefront safe, vibrant and lively for residents and visitors. In addition, property owners are investing further in their buildings and businesses as a result of the DRI. All of the DRI projects contribute towards successfully forwarding our comprehensive plan’s vision of a Beautiful, Prosperous, Equitable, Connected and Sustainable Geneva.”
Matt Worth, Batavia Interim City Manager, said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has created economic development momentum in Batavia that I have not seen before in my 31-year career with the City.”
Peter I. Cavallaro, Mayor of the Village of Westbury, said, “The DRI grant we received in 2016 has had a tremendous effect of creating uplift in our downtown and community. The projects, some of which are well underway, will bring new life to our downtown, and add economic stimuli to our business, arts and culture and residential stakeholders. We are proud to have been the first Long Island community to have been awarded a DRI grant, and we we’ve already seen that it will have a transformative impact on our community. The DRI concept is important to make our communities more sustainable and adapted to the health and future of Long Island and the state.”
Joseph Saladino, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is helping transform Hicksville into vibrant community. Public workshops hosted by our Local Planning Committee have obtained an exciting vision from our residents and great new ideas for potential uses of the $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds awarded to the Town of Oyster Bay by New York State. When complete, Hicksville will be a Shining Hamlet on the Tracks! I encourage communities across New York State to apply for this transformative grant opportunity.”
Joseph DeStafano, Mayor of Middletown, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative brings a major economic support to Middletown’s business community that is reinvigorating a new area to attract customers and families. This program will help transform areas that will now become thriving communities for our residents and visitors alike while bringing economic development to our City. We thank Governor Cuomo for his great vision in revitalizing downtown areas in the state.”
Steve Noble, Mayor of Kingston said, “Going through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative strategic planning process this past winter was an incredible opportunity and laid the groundwork for the transformative change coming to our Stockade Business District. Within two years, our ‘downtown’ will be thriving, thanks to the amazing support of New York State and the broad vision of Governor Cuomo. His commitment to the development of cities like Kingston will result in a stronger state where every New Yorker can prosper.”
Gary Herzig, Mayor of Oneonta, said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is playing a major role in pushing Oneonta ‘s economy over the tipping point. It has brought our colleges, business community and not for profits together as partners in building a more vibrant downtown and a stronger economy. We are very appreciative of this unique opportunity to reverse fifty years of decline.”
Jacqueline M. Izzo, Mayor of Rome, said, “We are humbled in the City of Rome to have been designated a 2017 Downtown Revitalization Initiative recipient. This will be a transformative project for our downtown area, not only opening the opportunity for existing business to make much needed improvements to enhance their businesses, but also leading the way to new opportunities in advanced manufacturing, arts and culture, entertainment, streetscape improvement and residential housing. We are grateful for the confidence Governor Cuomo has shown in our community as a DRI winner, and we look forward to getting our projects off the ground in 2018.”
Melinda Katz, Queens Borough President, said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a transformative program that impacts the trajectory of communities with key investments in infrastructure, housing and retail opportunities that drive new economic growth and create jobs. Queens thanks Governor Cuomo and the community stakeholders for continued partnerships in bringing future growth and prosperity to Queens.”
Michael Brady, Executive Director of the Third Avenue Business Improvement District located in the Bronx Civic Center said, “The New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative is an innovative economic development tool that provides communities throughout the State with planning and financial resources to implement high impact measures to re-energize downtowns. The Bronx, thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo and our local elected officials, has benefited from these resources; producing a master plan that harnesses the energy, history, culture of our community and couples that planning with capital dollars to implement projects that have a catalytic impact on our neighborhoods. This program provides real resources and planning tools to our community and is a tremendous way to implement community-based, high-impact projects.”
Colin Read, Mayor of Plattsburgh, said, “The City of Plattsburgh is most grateful for assistance from the State in creating something we could not leverage ourselves. The State came to us with a vision to revitalize our downtown and create a quality of life that could attract active living seniors and Millennials alike to live, work, and play downtown. Without the Governor’s assistance and encouragement, it would have been difficult to look with fresh eyes at something to which we’d grown accustomed. This is what vision is all about, and I’m pleased it will allow others to soon look at our downtown with tourist eyes.”
Joseph M. Butler Jr., Mayor of Watertown, said, “The DRI will not only stimulate investment in downtown Watertown in the near-term through the projects it funds, but the strategic planning that occurred will guide growth in the City’s core for years to come. The DRI process has led to a perception shift where people from across the City and region now want to be involved in improving their downtown and created a palpable sense of pride that was not there before.”
Daniel Mandell, Jr., Mayor of Elmira, said, “In less than a year from Governor Cuomo’s announcements of winning projects, the City of Elmira has benefitted immensely from the investment of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding. Currently, construction is underway on the West Water Street Mixed-Use Development project which will result in over 50 market rate apartment units and 16,700 square-feet of retail and commercial space with two announced tenants including LaBella Associates and brew pub. Renovations will soon be underway in vacant and/or underutilized buildings throughout the downtown. The Lake Street Pedestrian Bridge is also under design. We would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and the Department of State, Empire State Development, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and the Department of Transportation for working with Elmira on the implementation of these projects.”
Sam Teresi, Mayor of Jamestown, said “The $10 million Downtown Revitalization Grant award for the City of Jamestown has helped to leverage millions of dollars in additional public, private, and not-for-profit investment in the city’s Central Business District. It will take our downtown renaissance to new heights that we have not witnessed in decades. During the next few years, the total amount of public and private investment in the downtown, leveraged by the DRI, will total in the tens of millions of dollars. The DRI will not be the end all for growth and development in our Central Business District, but has launched a critical new chapter for the bright future of this city.”
William J. Aiello, Mayor of Olean, said, “The City of Olean was thrilled to receive $10 million dollars of funding through Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative in September of 2017. Since then our Local Planning committee chose a number of projects which incorporate DRI funding with private investment. These projects will establish Olean as a vibrant all-season downtown neighborhood that will deliver both economic opportunity and quality of life for all of our residents and those of the Greater Olean area.”
Featured photo by Doug Kerr via Wikipedia shows Market House in Oswego, NY.