On November 15, 2023, the completion of Westbury, New York’s final Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) project was celebrated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Extensive streetscape renovation along the Post Avenue corridor marked the completion of all six of the Long Island village’s projects funded under the state’s highly successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro said, “Today marks the substantial completion of our DRI Project journey. Each of the seven funded projects was conceived through public engagement with hundreds of residents and stakeholders, and each is truly transformative for our community. Our goal, from the beginning, was to use these funds wisely to bring our redevelopment efforts to the next level and make Westbury a model for other communities seeking to redevelop their downtowns. I think we were able to achieve that while making our community better and more sustainable for the future. I want to thank the Governor’s office, as well as the offices of the Secretary of State and of Homes and Community Renewal, who were terrific partners with us in the realization of our plans and maximizing the benefits that the DRI program brought to Westbury.”
The Westbury DRI has become an award-winning model for Transit-Oriented Development in the State, a key concept in Governor Kathy Hochul’s efforts to expand housing opportunities near transit stations.
“Westbury’s accomplishments showcase the transformative impact that a DRI award provides to New York communities,” Governor Hochul said. “Westbury’s DRI is a home run combination of project investments that will generate multiple benefits to the community and greater investments for generations to come as the revitalization process continues. The Westbury success story can serve as a model for other communities on Long Island and across the State.”
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The Village of Westbury exemplifies exactly what the Downtown Revitalization Initiative aims to deliver—a combination of projects and investments that are already bringing new residents and visitors to the downtown and amplifying the energy in the community. Congratulations to the Village, the DRI Local Planning Committee and the residents for this tremendous accomplishment, and I look forward to seeing Westbury benefit from the success of these projects for generations to come.”
The DRI provided over $5.5 million for pedestrian, public space and lighting upgrades along the Post Avenue Corridor. This project implemented a series of streetscape improvements along Post Avenue from Northern State Parkway to Old Country Road, including adding new trees, benches and bike racks; upgrading lighting to LED; and expanding some sidewalks at select intersections and along some side streets.
Westbury received a $10 million DRI award in the first round of the DRI in 2016. The Village’s Strategic Investment Plan focused on creating “a community for all seasons, celebrating its diversity, tolerance and inclusion.” Key goals included “creating a downtown that supports a vibrant mix of uses within proximity to the LIRR Station, increasing pedestrian activity downtown and enhancing the cultural profile of their arts-centric community.”
As part of the DRI, Westbury has completed a total of six revitalization projects:
- Rezone the Downtown – $970,000 DRI Award: The Village rezoned 52 acres of blighted property adjacent to its LIRR station to promote transit-oriented development, allow for a mix of residential and commercial uses and encourage increased density near the LIRR Station. The rezoning was completed in 2019.
- Create a Pedestrian Plaza and Intersection Improvements at Post and Union Avenues – $785,000 DRI Award: This project improved pedestrian connections between the LIRR Station and the Post Avenue retail corridor and created a new pedestrian plaza at a key Village intersection of Post and Union Avenues.
- Streetscape Improvements on Post Ave Corridor – $5,560,000 DRI Award: This expanded project implemented a series of streetscape improvements along Post Avenue from Northern State Parkway to Old Country Road, providing new trees, benches and bike racks; upgrading lighting to LED; expanding some sidewalks at select intersections and along some side streets.
- Recreation & Community Space Upgrades – $430,000 DRI Award: The Village upgraded three facilities that make up the Westbury Recreation and Community Center complex. Work included: reconfiguring the parking lot to increase capacity; gym floor renovations; adding LED lighting, a new boiler and new ADA doorways; exterior painting; and roof work.
- Secure a Permanent Space for the Westbury Arts Council – $1,355,000 DRI Award: The Village used DRI funds to renovate a recently attained building for the Arts Council facilitating their many programs, public exhibits, lectures, art classes, meetings and other events.
- Fund for Retail Capital Improvements – $600,000 DRI Award: DRI funds permitted the continuation of the Village’s very successful Retail Incentive Program and its Façade Improvement Program and provided grants directly to targeted retail businesses for capital improvements. Funds were used to improve 10 commercial buildings and 3 public buildings.
The completion of Westbury’s DRI projects comes about a year after the completion of one of the region’s most significant transportation infrastructure projects—the State’s LIRR 3rd Track Expansion Project from Floral Park to Hicksville, which also included substantial upgrades to the Westbury LIRR Station, pedestrian amenities and its new parking garage.
The DRI funded Westbury’s innovative Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) rezoning of 52 acres of blighted property adjacent to the LIRR station. The new TOD zoning is already spurring new housing and retail adjacent to the LIRR station, such as “The Cornerstone Westbury,” which is bringing 130 rental units to downtown Westbury, 18 of which will be affordable units.
Several other TOD developments are in the early planning phases, including the MTA’s TOD site on its lot on the southside of the tracks. In Governor Hochul’s State of the State message, TOD was cited as an opportunity to address the state’s housing crisis and expand housing opportunities near transit stations.
Governor Hochul also announced that Empire State Development (ESD) has expanded the Long Island Investment Fund to support transformative housing developments that bolster economic growth and community revitalization across the region. Under the amended guidelines, the Fund will provide preferential funding to projects that redevelop vacant commercial sites, remove blight, are near transit or downtowns, or feature mixed-use spaces. The expansion of the LIIF guidelines aims to address Long Island’s housing shortage while creating transformative developments that drive continued economic growth across Long Island.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The Village of Westbury stands as a shining example of the transformative power of community spirit and visionary planning, as demonstrated through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. With the completion of its DRI projects, Westbury has reinvigorated its downtown into a thriving hub where arts, culture, and commerce flourish. The recently expanded Long Island Investment Fund guidelines will support similar transformative developments across the region by prioritizing projects that create housing, spur economic growth, and revitalize communities.”
Many other state and local leaders praised Westbury’s revitalization:
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Thanks to the comprehensive work completed through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Westbury is a shining example of how we can take a $10 million State investment and transform a downtown into a more walkable, culturally vibrant, and transit-oriented community. Congratulations to all those who have been involved in the planning and execution of this initiative — your work will undoubtedly benefit generations of Westbury’s residents, businesses, and visitors.”
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Supporting cleaner, more sustainable communities is essential as we combat climate change, and NYSERDA is proud to have provided technical support and guidance on Westbury’s six revitalization projects. These investments are helping create a healthier, more walkable downtown which includes expanded access to affordable housing and energy efficient public spaces that will benefit both current and future generations of Westbury residents.”
MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said, “The revitalization of downtown Westbury is linked with the MTA’s Third Track project, which allowed the LIRR to increase service to Westbury by 29 additional trains per day, rebuilt the Westbury station, and replaced the Post Avenue Bridge to eliminate strikes from over-height trucks. When we invest in transit, we invest in downtown revitalization, making walkable communities like Westbury a more attractive place to live, do business, and visit.”
Empire State Development Board Chairman Kevin Law said, “The completed Westbury Downtown Revitalization Initiative exemplifies the transformative power of community-driven progress, paving the way for inclusive economic prosperity. Through strategic DRI investments in infrastructure, resources, and community growth, we are strengthening our local economy from the ground up and creating good local jobs that will uplift and benefit future generations.”
LIREDC Co-Chairs Linda Armyn, President & CEO at Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College, said, “Through thoughtful planning and dedicated collaboration, the Westbury Downtown Revitalization Initiative has given rise to a thriving downtown that bolsters local business, enlivens the arts, and fosters a sense of welcoming for residents and visitors alike. With expanded public spaces, pedestrian-friendly streets, and a blooming arts and culture scene, we have created a vibrant hub welcoming to all.”
State Senator Kevin Thomas said, “I am thrilled to see the Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects in the Village of Westbury come to life with such force. The completion of these transformative projects exemplifies the greatness that can be achieved for our communities through shared visions and collaboration between all levels of government. Westbury is paving the way for a brighter future with state-of-the-art community centers, modernized recreational facilities and an improved downtown business area. This is just the beginning – and I am excited for what’s to come.”
Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine said, “It gives me tremendous pride to see remarkable progress achieved in downtown Westbury. The now completed projects funded by a New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant, have resulted in transformative changes in infrastructure and facilities and make Westbury an attractive destination we all can be proud of.”
Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe said, “The success of the Westbury Village Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a blueprint for incentivizing the type of transit oriented, mixed-use development that will help to address our region’s persistent housing shortfalls and create new opportunities for young professionals and seniors alike to thrive. As a nearly lifelong Westbury resident, it is tremendously rewarding to see how the collective labor of so many dedicated stakeholders is now coming to fruition.”
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said, “Today is a historic occasion for downtown Westbury! The successful completion of these Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects is a testament to the power of community vision and collaborative effort. Thank you to Governor Hochul for your commitment to shaping a vibrant future for Westbury’s downtown.”
Town of North Hempstead Councilmember Robert J. Troiano said, “Westbury now stands tall as a testament to the potential of transit-oriented development and smart growth. This achievement reflects the collective dedication of our community, and I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Governor Hochul, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the Department of State for their invaluable support in providing this extraordinary funding. Together, we are shaping a vibrant future for Westbury that sets the standard for responsible and visionary urban development.”
Local DRI Planning Committee Co-Chair Dave Kapell said, “I congratulate Mayor Cavallaro and the Village Board of Trustees for their vision, determination and leadership in leveraging the Downtown Revitalization grant to support significant transit-oriented development, the $2.6 billion-dollar LIRR Third Track project, streetscape improvements and cultural arts to transform Westbury into a sought after destination for a diverse population. Westbury serves as a model for successful downtown revitalization on Long Island.”
Long Island Association President & CEO Matt Cohen said, “Expanding the tax base and creating more housing opportunities will stimulate economic growth and boost the competitiveness for employers to hire on Long Island. The LIA thanks Governor Hochul for making housing production, particularly more affordable options, a priority with Long Island Investment Fund awards that infuse new development in communities like Westbury, which will also help address our region’s affordability crisis.”
Long Island Builders Institute CEO Mike Florio said, “We applaud Governor Hochul’s continued effort to address Long Island’s housing crisis. The infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars of incentives from the Long Island Investment Fund to address transformative housing projects is the type of shot in the arm Long Island needs. These incentives will aid us in reimagining how and where we develop new housing stock for both young people and seniors that want to stay here, while boosting economic development and job growth for the region.”
Association for a Better Long Island Executive Director Kyle Strober said, “Governor Hochul’s initiative that will unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in funding has the means to create transformative housing projects that is a win-win-win for Long Island. It will help spur desperately needed housing projects, via incentives, that will provide homes for young people and allow our seniors to age in place. The initiative will help Main Street businesses with new customers as well as help maintain a young and vibrant workforce which is essential to attracting and retaining larger companies. Lastly, it has the potential to address key infrastructure needs that have hindered our region’s economic growth. ABLI commends Governor Hochul for this new effort to address our region’s housing crisis.”
Westbury Business Improvement District President and Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce President Peter D Carbone said, “Programs like the DRI and Streetscape create a ripple effect that improve the Village, the businesses, and their surroundings. We take great pride in the Village of Westbury, and I look forward to the growth that is to come because of programs such as this.”
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and he New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy.
In the first five years of the program, the state committed $600 million, investing in 59 downtowns ripe for revitalization that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity.
All images courtesy of the Office of Governor Hochul.