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 the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), a $100 million effort to improve the vitality of urban centers across New York State.
In 2016, ten communities were identified by the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) to participate in the DRI. 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. In the summer of 2017, the Governor announced the projects that will receive implementation funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Communities selected in Round One of the DRI were:
Southern Tier – Elmira
Finger Lakes – Geneva
Capital Region – Glens Falls
New York City – Jamaica
Western New York – Jamestown
Mid-Hudson – Middletown
Mohawk Valley – Oneonta
Central New York – Oswego
North Country – Plattsburgh
Long Island – Westbury
Round One Winners of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
Strategically located between major commercial corridors, Elmira’s compact and walkable downtown is well positioned to become an active, desirable and diverse college community. Recent development has catered to the needs of new residents attracted by the recent growth of the region’s health care industry and impending college expansions. Under the DRI, Elmira will focus on attracting new businesses and skilled workers, strengthening arts and cultural attractions, expanding housing options for all income levels, and developing amenities to support and enhance downtown living and quality of life. The plan will include a greater variety of retail and housing, improving the aesthetics of downtown and capitalizing on natural assets such as the Chemung River.
Over the last decade, Geneva has emerged as a major employment center, boasting over 200 firms and nearly 1,500 jobs in the central business district alone. Geneva’s historic walkable downtown is poised to become a vibrant retail, dining, cultural and entertainment destination for the burgeoning workforce and for students at the three local colleges. Under the DRI, the City will focus on the rehabilitation of key buildings; diversification of housing and retail options; access to healthy food; and building entrepreneurship in the downtown area.
Glens Falls’ compact Arts, Wellness, and Entertainment District boasts small businesses, mixed-use spaces, major employers, parks, health care providers, and arts and cultural organizations. This walkable neighborhood has experienced recent growth in both employment and population. Glens Falls will build on this growth and momentum with a focus on rehabilitation of vacant and deteriorating buildings for residential and retail use, enhancing access to arts and cultural opportunities, and improving connections for pedestrians and cyclists.
As a vibrant mixed-use community with a central downtown and a multi-modal transit hub, Jamaica, Queens is on the cusp of a renaissance. Downtown Jamaica is experiencing a wave of private and public investments in infrastructure, housing, hospitality, retail and jobs. The DRI will build on existing public and private investments through a comprehensive strategy that will maximize community assets to become an affordable, livable and sustainable mixed-use community for residents, workers and visitors.
A renewed commitment by the city and numerous public and private partners to revitalize Jamestown has resulted in key investments downtown, including the National Comedy Center and several major mixed use buildings. These initiatives have primed the downtown for a range of new investment and the DRI will leverage this potential to create a truly inclusive, year-round downtown for both current and future residents and visitors. With over 100 buildings comprising a core 30-block area, downtown Jamestown has the second largest development footprint of any downtown in Western New York. Under the DRI, Jamestown will focus on streetscape improvements, redevelopment of historic buildings, and riverfront redevelopment.
The City of Middletown is growing as a result of new and expanding businesses and educational institutions in and around the City. Prominent examples include the repurposing of the new home of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Middletown Community Health Center, the redevelopment of the former Middletown State Psychiatric Hospital property in the Middletown Community Campus and the new Clemson Brewery. Middletown’s compact, walkable, mixed-use downtown, is poised to become the area’s primary central business district destination for the expanding, culturally diverse, population. Under the DRI, Middletown will build on recent public and private investments to create a truly vibrant, year-round downtown that serves as the economic, civic and cultural center of the community.
With assets that include mixed-use housing, intermodal transportation, a vibrant culture and arts district, and anchor institutions, such as Hartwick College and SUNY Oneonta, the City of Oneonta, situated along the Susquehanna River, is poised to transform into a 21st century, regionally competitive community while maintaining its quaint, small-town essence. Under the DRI, Oneonta will focus on projects in the downtown area that will leverage significant private investment to promote sustainability and reduce the city’s carbon footprint, provide new housing opportunities, create a Food and Craft Beverage Innovation District, and expand upon its economic potential as a regional center of culture and commerce.
With assets that include a scenic waterfront location, compact and walkable downtown, rich cultural history and anchor institutions such as SUNY Oswego, Oswego Health and the Port of Oswego Authority, Oswego is well-positioned for a transformation into a regionally competitive area while maintaining its small town charm. Under the DRI, Oswego will focus on catalytic projects in the downtown that will leverage significant private investment and provide new housing opportunities, mixed-use development, a business incubator, commercial/retail development and community services.
Downtown Plattsburgh is Clinton County’s gathering place. Over the last few years, strong and sustainable job growth in the region has increased the demand for housing and retail opportunities in the downtown. Under the DRI, Plattsburgh will build on recent investments, including a new municipal marina, streetscape improvements, and renovation of historic buildings to create a vibrant downtown that serves the needs of local employees, residents, students and visitors. The focus will be on mixed-use infill development, a greater variety of retail and housing, expansion of the successful Farmers’ Market, and providing an enhanced connection to the waterfront.
Westbury is one of the most diverse and well-located communities on Long Island. Westbury's revived downtown, prime location, affordable housing options, walkability and arts/culture activities provide a strong basis for the Village's continued growth. “The Space at Westbury” is the only downtown performing arts theater in central Nassau County which brings a new energy and cultural focus to the community. Under the DRI, Westbury is well positioned to advance its existing smart growth and transit-oriented development initiatives while increasing the vibrancy of the downtown area with enhanced arts, culture, and dining opportunities.