Recognizing that companies are increasingly seeking to relocate and invest in vibrant, walkable downtowns in an effort to attract and retain a talented workforce, the State launched a second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), a $100 million effort to improve the vitality of urban centers across New York State.
Launched in 2016, the $100 million initiative resulted in identification by the ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) of one community in each region to participate in the DRI. Ten more communities were identified in 2017 (DRI Two), again in 2018 (DRI Three), and once again in 2019 (DRI Four). Each year, the State facilitated a community planning process that resulted in a Strategic Investment Plan for each community.
To fully leverage the impact of the DRI, Local Planning Committees identified projects that totaled in excess of the available DRI funds to ensure a continued pipeline of projects ready for funding within the community. The Governor will soon announce the projects that will receive implementation funding through the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Communities Selected in Round Four of the DRI were:
Capital Region - Schenectady
Central New York - Fulton
Finger Lakes - Seneca Falls
Long Island - Baldwin
Mid-Hudson - Peekskill
Mohawk Valley - Utica
New York City - Staten Island
North Country - Potsdam
Southern Tier - Hornell
Western New York - Niagara Falls Bridge District
Round Four Winners of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The City of Schenectady’s DRI area is anchored by Proctors Theater, the Capital Region’s largest arts and entertainment facility, and extends along Erie Boulevard to the recently revived Mohawk Harbor, encompassing a corridor rich with entertainment, education, office, retail, and residential amenities. In recent years, Schenectady has transformed its downtown district with strategic investments in and around Proctors Theater, expanded its targeted development efforts to the Mill Artisan District on Lower State Street, and spearheaded the development of a waterfront destination at Mohawk Harbor. The City now envisions linking these anchor attractions and will apply the DRI award towards creating a cohesive, dynamic downtown that connects the city core to waterfront amenities.
The City of Fulton is located along the Oswego River, an area rich in history. It is home to nationally registered historical sites, retail stores, restaurants, banks, service organizations, and cultural attractions, with recent development setting the stage for development of vacant sites and brownfields and spurring growth in the fields of clean energy, health, biomedical and biosciences, financial services, agribusiness and food processing, advanced manufacturing, and destination tourism. The City aims to “Blaze New Trails” by building on this momentum in its historic downtown waterfront and NYS 481 corridor, enhancing natural and cultural attractions, and continuing to grow opportunity in local health, service, and manufacturing industries. With a boost from DRI, the City will strengthen the infrastructure necessary to support downtown businesses and create recreational and cultural opportunities attractive to visitors and residents alike.
Located along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and Van Cleef Lake, Seneca Falls has a remarkable heritage and a promising future. As the birthplace of women’s rights, the town is home to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Women’s Rights National Park, and a variety of retail shops, professional offices, parks, and recreational activities. Evidence of renewed vitality abounds in the downtown district, with recent efforts expanding recreational opportunities in or near downtown, preserving historic and cultural assets, and growing the local food and beverage scene, educational offerings, and retail options. With the DRI award, Seneca Falls will take the next steps towards realizing its vision for a mixed-use downtown primed for commerce, tourism, education, the arts, and full-time living and supported by up-to-date infrastructure and a thriving year-round economy.
Located in the Town of Hempstead, Baldwin’s targeted area for DRI investment centers on the commercial corridor of Grand Avenue with its proximity to the Baldwin Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station and the surrounding cluster of retail, commercial, institutional, and public recreation uses. The Town has embarked on a strategic, holistic approach to revitalizing downtown Baldwin with innovative zoning and design guidelines geared towards building a vibrant center of economic activity and priming the area for investment. Leveraging this effort as a framework for future development, the DRI award will advance the community’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use downtown centered on an active LIRR station.
The City of Peekskill in Westchester County invites people to “Take a Peek ...Discover Peekskill!” Its DRI target area includes the downtown and waterfront Transit-Oriented Development District which boasts cultural and educational institutions, an award-winning waterfront and parks system, and a core string of restaurants and boutique retailers. Niche markets in entertainment, fine and digital art, culture, craft food and beverages, sports and recreation, waterfront tourism, and personal services have emerged in recent years and serve as a solid foundation upon which to continue the community’s revitalization. The DRI award will enable Peekskill to build on these successes with strengthened pedestrian amenities that link existing community assets and increased offerings in tourism, the arts, media, and light manufacturing that create employment and training opportunities for a range of skill and wage levels.
Genesee Street, Utica’s primary commercial corridor, has emerged as a hub for growing finance, hospitality, and arts and cultural offerings and serves as the seat of the City and Oneida County government and civic affairs. Previous efforts to enhance the area’s pedestrian and cyclist amenities, leverage central and historic anchor buildings, promote inclusivity and equity, and stimulate the growth of new businesses have rendered the increasingly young and diverse neighborhood ready for catalytic DRI investment. Adopting a people-centric creative placemaking approach, Utica will leverage the DRI support to build a downtown that unites the community, attracts new residents and visitors, and stimulates economic investment. Strategies supporting the community vision for “Connecting People, Place, and Purpose” include activating public spaces, recruiting entrepreneurs, revitalizing historic or vacant buildings, advancing multimodal transit efforts, and developing mixed-use housing options.
Staten Island’s downtown core is the gateway to Staten Island for both visitors and residents. It provides prominent civic, commercial, and cultural assets connected by the central Bay Street Corridor running from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and historic St. George neighborhood to the rapidly developing Stapleton area. As the fastest-growing area in Staten Island, the neighborhood is on the cusp of a new era: business incubators and breweries are joining historic tourist destinations and an established civic center in bringing foot traffic to downtown streets, waterfront and mixed-used developments are creating a renaissance on the North Shore, and an unprecedented demand for businesses to locate downtown is transforming the suburban enclave into an expanding hub of economic activity. The DRI award will enable Staten Island to capitalize on this recent and rapid growth and focus development efforts on creating a connected world-class tourist, retail, and dining destination.
The commercial core of the Village of Potsdam blends historic structures with 21st Century education offerings, serving as a hub for commerce, higher education, health care, and the arts. Over more than three decades, Potsdam has set the wheels in motion for transformational development by creating a strong sense of place, facilitating the development of downtown residential options, supporting both small businesses and large educational institutions, and enhancing waterfront parks, access, and recreational opportunities. Potsdam has now set its sights on charting a course that balances the preservation of historic and natural resources with economic development. The DRI award will advance its preservation efforts, prominence in the arts, streetscape and waterfront improvements, and support for traditional and new technology businesses to create a mixed-use downtown where nature and culture coexist.
Located on the western border of Steuben County, Hornell's walkable downtown runs along a wide Main Street flanked by numerous small businesses, valuable historic structures, and mixed-use residential options animated by a growing arts community and strong partnerships with nearby educational institutions. Recent investment in local housing options, manufacturing facilities, arts and cultural offerings, healthcare centers, commercial and mixed-use development, and public infrastructure, including an Upstate Revitalization Initiative Award to Alstom Transportation for a Rail Manufacturing Center for Excellence, has set the stage for the resurgence of a community still reckoning with the enduring impact of urban renewal. The DRI award will enable Hornell to continue to rebound by supporting the cultural, historic, educational, recreational, artistic, dining, and retail opportunities necessary to sustain a robust workforce, engaged citizens, and a high standard of living.
Niagara Falls’ Bridge District centers on a Main Street corridor containing prominent civic and cultural assets and regional transportation amenities proximate to the natural attractions of De Veaux Woods State Park and the Niagara Gorge. In recent years, the construction of The Niagara Falls International Train Station and Intermodal Transportation Center and development of the plan to remove the Robert Moses Parkway and restore ecosystems along the reclaimed Niagara Gorge have laid the groundwork for enhanced connectivity between these core components. The DRI plan will identify key investments in public spaces, signature design projects, and strategic support of private projects to continue to bridge the divide, sewn by urban renewal, between Main Street and the Niagara Gorge by fostering connections between community assets, a sense of place, and residential options for a diverse population. Niagara Falls is eager to ensure that investment will deliver on the principles of good urbanism to create a welcoming gateway district for visitors, a sought-after area for commercial activity and employment, and a desirable neighborhood in which to make a home.