In late July of 2019, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced transformational projects for the communities of Lockport, Amsterdam, and Saranac Lake.
Each is using their $10 million share of $30 million in awards from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).
The strategic investments in Lockport encompass rehabilitation and redevelopment of several iconic buildings and historic areas, including the Erie Canal, F&M Building, Cornerstone CFCU Arena, and Harrison place, as well as small businesses and services supporting the local community.
“Through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Lockport will be able to secure significant upgrades in housing, transit, and community spaces, along with new business opportunities,” Governor Cuomo said. “Western New York has seen unprecedented development in recent years, and with these targeted investments we are empowering communities to make further improvements that benefit the residents and visitors.”
The projects to be funded in Lockport through the DRI include:
- Rehabilitate the Spalding Mill Building and Site: Implement improvements to the Spalding Mill building and adjacent grounds to reactivate downtown Lockport with a tourist and community destination celebrating the history of the mill and the Erie Canal. The project will be a public-private partnership between Historic Lockport Mill Race and the City of Lockport and will include a new rooftop venue, flexible outdoor event space, a hillside amphitheater, and ADA accessible improvements to the surrounding site, laying the groundwork for access to future trail projects.
- Breathe New Life into the Historic Post Office: Rehabilitate the underutilized Historic Post Office to create space for existing and emerging businesses, drawing activity to the downtown area, promoting future investment, and preserving the singular character of Lockport. The project will include interior and exterior rehabilitation to accommodate a restaurant or event space, a coffee shop, a boutique shop, and office space.
- Rehabilitate the F&M Building as a Mixed-Use Development: Transform the vacant historical Farmers & Mechanics (F&M) Building, the tallest structure in downtown Lockport, and the adjacent Mall Building into a mixed-use development with ground-floor commercial space and upper-story residential units. This will provide opportunities for residents to live, work, and play downtown and will serve as a symbol of Lockport’s revitalization. The project includes the replacement of electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems; conversion of the F&M Building’s upper stories into market rate apartments; renovation of the F&M Building’s first floor for retail, office, or commercial use; and repurposing of a portion of the Mall Building into covered parking.
- Expand Harrison Place as a Business Community Hub: Continue the restoration of Harrison Place as a Western New York Innovation Hot Spot, a hub for entrepreneurial development, small business support, and community, through the addition of a food hall incubator, the build-out of micro offices, and the development of inviting shared spaces for community use.
- Install Streetscape Enhancements on Pine Street: Create safer, clearer, and more attractive vehicular and pedestrian routes along Pine Street to enhance connectivity between Main Street and downtown destinations, transforming the area into a collection of walkable and accessible neighborhoods. Proposed improvements include the reconfiguration of the intersection between Pine Street, Lock Street, and Gooding Street to accommodate defined vehicular lanes and a community greenspace; installation of bump outs, highly-visible crosswalks, and ADA-accessible curb ramps; installation of planters and banner poles along the Pine Street Bridge; installation of benches, bike racks, and greenery along the Pine Street Corridor; and use of porous concrete sidewalks.
- Transform a Historic Landmark into a Mixed-Use Destination: Convert the former Tuscarora Club into a mixed-use facility with restaurant, bar, and event space along with residential units featuring both short-and long-term leases. The project will create a community and tourist destination, provide accommodations for Lockport visitors, and energize an underutilized stretch of Walnut Street.
- Complete the Restoration of the Historic Palace Theatre: Complete the final phase of the Historic Palace Theatre’s restoration and carry out complementary finishing touches, expanding the theatre’s capacity to host larger audiences and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the building as a performing arts venue and center for arts education. The project includes installation of a new stage rigging system, renovations to the orchestra pit, restoration and addition of seats, roof replacement, installation of a solar panel system, and addition of box seat amenities.
- Establish a Small Project Grant Fund Program: Establish a grant program for the redevelopment, rehabilitation, or historic preservation of vacant or underutilized properties in the DRI area, enabling the continued use of existing structures, improving the appearance of downtown, and drawing activity to the area. Examples of improvements covered under the grant fund include interior and exterior renovations; capital improvements including the purchase of machinery and equipment; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure for vacant spaces within existing buildings; demolition of an existing unrepairable building and construction of new building; and signage.
- Create a Lock Tender Tribute on the Steps of the Erie Canal: Launch the creation of a fourteen-figure monument on the steps of the Erie Canal between Locks 70 and 71 that recreates the scene captured in a historic C.J. Lewis photograph and celebrates the human aspect of canal life in Lockport’s history. DRI funding will support the design, execution and installation of five bronze sculptures and the restoration of the stone steps on the Erie Canal.
- Install Streetscape Enhancements on South Street: Implement streetscape improvements on South Street to create a safe environment for all modes of transportation and facilitate access to downtown Lockport from surrounding residential neighborhoods and employment hubs. Examples of proposed improvements include enhanced pedestrian crossings, defined on-street parking, and additional amenities such as greenery, benches, and bike racks.
The strategic investments in downtown Amsterdam will enhance several initiatives including Riverlink Park, the waterfront, the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, community gathering spaces, new businesses and restaurants along Bridge Street, among others.
“The City of Amsterdam was once booming with industrial manufacturers, but experienced a decline in the industry like many upstate cities decades ago,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This significant investment in economic development projects will help Amsterdam continue its revitalization with mixed-use development to enhance quality of life. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is providing communities with the funding they need to attract businesses and grow their economies.”
The projects to be funded in Amsterdam through the DRI include:
- Strengthen the Chuctanunda Creek Trail’s Downtown Presence: Install enhanced signage, lighting, and safety measures along the downtown stretch of the Chuctanunda Creek Trail to enable the district to serve as a tourist and recreation destination, and to facilitate access to broader trail systems and amenities. ($288,728)
- Transform the Southside into a Vibrant, Walkable Community: Implement public realm improvements to encourage pedestrian activity along Bridge Street and connect the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge to Southside’s emerging shopping and restaurant scene. The project includes the creation of a boardwalk, and improvements to the sidewalks, streetscape, and civic spaces adjacent to the Chalmers Mills Lofts. ($312,785)
- Construct a Waterfront Entertainment Destination: Provide a new dock, boat lifts, and storage to a waterski show business relocating to the Amsterdam waterfront, where it will strengthen the area’s tourist attraction in the summer and serve as a catalyst for future investment. ($60,000)
- Transform a Portion of Highway into a Public Open Space: Remove and re-purpose the eastbound portion of NYS Route 5 as public open space, providing residents with recreation opportunities and laying the groundwork for the development of the proposed recreation center. DRI funding will be used for temporary barriers, signage, striping, and the removal of asphalt and paving. ($547,087)
- Create a Gateway to the Downtown District: Create an attractive and defined gateway at the intersection of Church Street and East Main Street to provide a positive first impression of the city, render the intersection pedestrian-friendly, and attract visitors to patronize downtown businesses. The project will include public art, new lighting, landscape improvements, sidewalks, and new signage. ($1,000,000)
- Create a Community Dog Park: Construct a fenced-in community dog park at 198-100 Erie Street to serve as a mid-block connector from the waterfront to the Empire State Trail, furthering the Southside’s transformation into a complete and connected neighborhood. As the first dog park in the city or county, this project is expected to be a local and regional recreation destination. ($323,400)
- Relocate and Enhance the Amsterdam Skate Park: Relocate the Amsterdam Skate Park through the construction of an improved facility adjacent to the proposed community and recreation center at 143 East Main Street. The new skate park will provide Amsterdam’s young people with a safe and inviting place to socialize and will accommodate and complement the development of the new recreation center. ($93,000)
- Install Streetscape Improvements on Bridge and Main Streets: Transform the city’s two primary commercial streets, Bridge Street and East Main Street, into the signature components of a walkable, vibrant downtown environment, drawing residents and tourists to local businesses around the clock. Streetscape improvements include decorative lighting, sidewalk upgrades, landscaping, and street furniture. ($350,000)
- Launch a Unified Marketing and Wayfinding Campaign: Craft a compelling and site-specific narrative about Amsterdam that draws and directs visitors to downtown destinations. This project includes the development and installation of a vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding system, installation of public art reflective of community identity, and consistent and comprehensive marketing of downtown amenities through a unified branding strategy. ($500,000)
- Establish Design Guidelines to Create a Cohesive Downtown: Establish design guidelines to ensure new development and renovation projects preserve and enhance the downtown character, creating an aesthetically coordinated district and encouraging future investment. The guidelines will address façade improvements, signage regulations, lighting, landscaping, and beautification projects. ($50,000)
- Establish a Downtown Improvement Fund: Establish a matching grant fund for interior and exterior building improvements within the DRI area to stimulate property upgrades and investments. The grant program will promote projects that include mixed-uses and that will create jobs and advance community revitalization goals. ($600,000)
- Renovate and Expand the Amsterdam Free Library: Renovate and expand the Amsterdam Free Library to create a robust community center in the heart of the downtown district. The expanded library will include a new business incubator, STEM education facility, and multi-use community room complete with stage, screen, and sound and light equipment. ($1,800,000)
- Create Community and Recreation Centers: Rehabilitate 149 East Main Street for use as a community center and construct a new adjacent recreation center to activate this underutilized part of downtown and transform East Main Street into a destination in its own right. The complex will include a computer lab, art gallery, shared kitchen, and facilities for reading, music, tutoring, recreation, painting, photography, and cinema. ($2,500,000)
- Transform the Key Bank Building into a Mixed-Use Anchor: Rehabilitate and convert the historic former Key Bank building into a mixed-use development, transforming the local landmark into a beacon of revitalization, ensuring around-the-clock street activity on East Main Street, and drawing visitors to the downtown district. The project will include ground-floor commercial use and upper-story residential units overlooking the city’s downtown and waterfront. ($1,000,000)
- Renovate the Samuel Sweet Canal Store: Transform the historic Samuel Sweet Canal Store into a tavern and gift shop to draw tourists and out-of-town patrons to the area and further strengthen the growing food and beverage scene on the Southside. This project will include the conversion of the second floor into a tavern, addition of public sewer and water hookups, installation of a new roof, and construction of a parking lot. ($275,000)
The strategic investments in downtown Saranac Lake will augment the village’s strengths: proximity to the Adirondack Mountains and recreation attractions, a vibrant arts and cultural community, and a mix of small businesses in its walkable downtown.
NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Saranac Lake will benefit from the Governor’s innovative Downtown Revitalization Initiative that is making communities throughout New York even better places to live, work and play. Saranac Lake is a North Country treasure that will continue to grow with strategic investments that create more housing, economic and recreational opportunities.”
“The DRI projects chosen for Saranac Lake will leverage strategic state investments to continue the transformation of this unique downtown, helping to create local jobs and encourage sustainable economic growth in a region that’s the proud home to New York’s Adirondack Park,” added Empire State Development Chairman Howard Zemsky.
The projects to be funded in Saranac Lake through the DRI include:
- Create a Series of Linked Gateway Parks: Enhance the pedestrian experience and safety with new amenities at Berkeley Green Park, Ward Plumadore Park, and William Morris Park, and complementary streetscape improvements adjacent to each public space. The new network of upgraded corridors and parks will reinforce the northern and central gateways to Saranac Lake and provide accessible and attractive open spaces downtown. ($1,077,769)
- Increase Connectivity between Downtown Destinations: Transform downtown Saranac Lake into a vibrant, walkable community core by increasing connectivity between retail, recreation, and municipal amenities. Four key components are the installation of landscape and safety features on Church Street; redesign of the Dorsey Street parking lot; completion of the Riverwalk; and expansion of the tree canopy along the Broadway and Main retail corridors. ($1,062,073)
- Enhance the Woodruff Street Streetscape: Revamp the Woodruff Street corridor from Broadway to Bloomington Avenue as a walkable destination, facilitating its development as a retail and cultural hub. Improvements will include undergrounding utility lines and installing a two-way bicycle lane, new sidewalks, high-visibility crosswalks, trees, pedestrian-scale lighting, and a complementary decorative feature. ($1,993,664)
- Develop the Saranac Lake Whitewater Park: Develop a whitewater park to bring new aquatic activities to downtown Saranac Lake and build on the Village’s status as a recreation destination. The park will be located on village property along the Saranac River north of the Route 3/LaPan Bridge. ($410,616)
- Creation of Play ADK: A Children’s Museum: Convert a warehouse at 33 Depot Street into a safe, attractive and fascinating children’s museum and play center Develop the site of new children’s museum/play center into a beautiful park, and improve the warehouse into a safe, attractive and fascinating spatial experience as a giant play-structure which stimulates the imagination and creative spirit of young children and their families. Phase 1 building repairs will include lighting, and safe, convenient access to the warehouse. ($949,378)
- Create Saranac Lake’s First Downtown Brewery: Expand the Bitters & Bones bar and restaurant to incorporate Saranac Lake’s first downtown brewery and beer garden, attracting beer, food, and entertainment enthusiasts and contributing to Saranac Lake’s nightlife scene. The project will include the creation of additional space for the brewery functions, a new rooftop deck, facade improvements, and the renovation of two apartments. ($381,500)
- Position the Pendragon Theatre as a Cultural and Community Anchor: Transform an underutilized former paint store at 56 Woodruff Street into a state-of-the-art performance facility for the Pendragon Theatre, anchoring the downtown district. This adaptive reuse project will enable the non-profit to accommodate larger audiences, provide opportunities to showcase local art, and serve as the centerpiece of Saranac Lake’s vibrant arts community. ($2,500,000)
- Rehabilitate the Trudeau Home as the Historic Saranac Lake Museum: Rehabilitate the former home and medical office of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, a seminal figure in the development of tuberculosis treatment, to create a multi-use museum campus at State Route 86 to serve as a gateway attraction driving local tourism. The project will create museum space for exhibits, collections storage, a resource room, and arts and cultural events. ($325,000)
- Create an Entrepreneurial Business Center (The Carry): Convert an existing commercial space into an entrepreneurial business center, The Carry, to provide emerging businesses with work space, programming, and technical assistance. The Carry will include a flexible and open floor plan, a kitchenette, a conference room, and Wi-Fi access ($400,000)
- Establish the Energize Downtown Fund: Establish a fund to provide matching grants for building improvements, site upgrades, commercial buildouts, and rent subsidies at commercial and mixed-use properties in the DRI area. ($600,000)
Photo (via DRI) shows downtown Saranac Lake, NY.