Downtown Revitalization Initiative Frequently Asked Questions

TOP Downtown Revitalization Initiative Frequently Asked Questions
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1) When was the Downtown Revitalization Initiative launched?

Governor Cuomo proposed the DRI in his State of the State address, and it was officially launched on April 7th at the REDC Leadership Conference in Syracuse. Each REDC nominated a downtown for the program after thoroughly evaluating the potential for transformation.  Local Planning Committees were assembled in each selected downtown and the planning process began in late summer of 2016.

2) What is the relationship between the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative?

Four of the DRI communities are also participating in the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI). The four communities are: Elmira, Jamestown, Oneonta, and Oswego. While the two initiatives are independent of each other, the communities are encouraged to look for opportunities to coordinate the two programs to maximize the value of each.

3) What is the relationship between the DRI and other state funding initiatives?

Each of the DRI communities will prepare a Strategic Implementation Plan that includes projects to advance downtown revitalization well beyond the $10 million in DRI funding available to each community. The DRI will seek to leverage DRI funds with other funding initiatives from public or private sources, and it is anticipated that other state funding initiatives will give priority consideration to projects and proposals in DRI Plans.

4) Are all State agencies giving priority and preference to funding consolidated funding applications (CFAs) that are related to DRI?  Will Restore NY do so as well?

State agencies will give priority consideration to CFAs in the 2016-2017 funding round which demonstrate they will advance downtown revitalization through transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects that will attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses - creating dynamic neighborhoods where tomorrow’s workforce will want to live, work, and raise a family.

As the goal of Restore NY is to revitalize urban centers, it is anticipated that proposed projects in selected DRI communities will be well-positioned for Restore NY grants as well.

5) May the DRI boundary proposed in the application be modified?

Yes.  The DRI boundary proposed in the application was an initial determination of where a City wanted to focus its revitalization efforts.  As the selected DRI municipality goes through the planning process, it may be determined that the initial boundary should be modified to address local issues or to capitalize on opportunities outside of the original boundary. 

6) Should livability of the DRI area be a major topic of the planning effort?

Yes. The intent of the DRI is to advance downtown revitalization through transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects that will attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses - creating dynamic neighborhoods where tomorrow’s workforce will want to live, work, and raise a family.  Livability in the DRI area is a fundamental component of this effort.

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7) What is the role of the DRI Chairman and former Secretary of State Cesar Perales?

Former Secretary of State Cesar Perales was instrumental in the conception of the DRI, and he was asked by Governor Cuomo to chair the Initiative. In this role, Chairman Perales will oversee the development of the Strategic Investment Plans, ensure consistent progress, and identify common issues and opportunities among the DRIs. Chairman Perales will deliver the ten DRI Strategic Investment Plans to the Governor at the conclusion of the planning phase of the Initiative. 

8) What is the role of the Local Planning Committee?

The Local Planning Committee (LPC) will work with the Consulting Team, State Planners, and key municipal representatives to guide and direct the establishment of a community-based vision for revitalizing downtown and the development of a Strategic Investment Plan that includes strategies and recommends projects to implement that vision. The LPC will be particularly responsible for ensuring that the priorities and interests of the community are reflected in the planning process and the resulting recommendations.

LPC members will approve the downtown vision and strategies and the final DRI Strategic Investment Plan.  They will be asked to agree to a Code of Conduct as a reminder that they must always act in the public interest in their role as Local Planning Committee members.

To carry out their role, LPC members will be asked to attend a variety of meetings at which they will participate in brainstorming ideas, providing direction to consultants, reviewing planning products, and prioritizing actions.  Committee members may also participate in community outreach by making presentations to other groups, distributing information, reaching out to their networks, or other activities as deemed appropriate by the LPC.

9) What are the roles of the DOS and HCR staff assigned to each community?

Each Local Planning Committee has been assigned a state planning team consisting of staff from DOS and HCR. The planning team consists of a Lead Planner, one or two Assistant Planners from DOS, and a specialist from HCR.  The Lead Planner will manage the Consultant Team assigned to the community, serve as a liaison between the LPC and the Consultants assigned to the LPC, ensure that the process and deliverables are consistent with the goals, priorities and requirements of the Initiative, and facilitate assistance from other State agencies as needed.  The Assistant Planners provide additional expertise to the planning process and assist the Lead Planner as needed. 

HCR staff brings knowledge of the communities and expertise in housing development, CDBG, and HCR grants and programs to the team. They will work with the DOS planning team to review products submitted by the firms and attend meetings in the communities.

10) What is the role of municipal staff from the DRI communities?

Municipal staff from the DRI communities is uniquely positioned to connect the DRI consultants and state planners with local resources and advice on effective community outreach. Their knowledge and expertise may be drawn upon during the planning process in a variety of ways. For example, municipal staff may assist with meeting logistics, identify municipal programs and resources that can be leveraged to advance the DRI planning process, and/or act as local point of contact for public engagement.

11) What is the role of the public?

Public engagement is a key component of the DRI planning process.  The Local Planning Committees, consultant teams and state planners will seek input from all stakeholders in the community including municipal government, key employers and institutions, residents, business owners, stakeholder groups and organizations, and the general public. The objective will be to ensure that all stakeholders have ample opportunity to know and understand the DRI process and its intended outcomes; to comment on the study as it progresses; to have their concerns and ideas be heard; and to contribute to building a consensus about the vision for the Downtown and other outcomes, culminating in a locally supported DRI Strategic Plan.

A transparent and open planning process is fundamental to the success of the DRI effort, and all LPC meetings are open to the public   Members of the public are encouraged to attend LPC meetings and to contribute ideas, comments, and questions at the appropriate time. 

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12) Who is the primary driver of the planning process?

The DRI is a collaborative program that includes a number of key partners, including the Local Planning Committee, state agency staff, and a consultant team. The Local Planning Committee is responsible for representing the interests and priorities of the community, while the state agency staff will ensure that the process and deliverables are consistent with the goals, priorities and requirements of the Initiative.  In addition, the state planning team, together with the consultants, will provide the necessary expertise, guidance, and technical assistance to develop a strategic investment plan that will achieve the vision and goals for revitalization of the downtown as approved by the Local Planning Committee.

13) Will the Local Planning Committees (LPC) be required to meet according to a prescribed schedule?

There is be no prescribed meeting schedule for the LPC – it will be left up to the co-chairs and members of the committee, working with the consultants and state planners, to determine the most appropriate meeting schedule to achieve the goals and milestones identified to be able to deliver a final strategic investment plan in February 2017.

14) Must LPC meetings be open to the public, and if so, how will notice be provided?

All full LPC meetings must be open to the public and noticed as the community would notice any other public meeting – through local newspapers, municipal websites, and flyers at key locations throughout the DRI municipality. In addition, meeting notices for all Local Planning Committee are posted on the state DRI website at: http://www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative

15) Will LPC meetings in the form of conference call be allowed or encouraged?

Scheduled LPC meetings should be held in person at regular intervals.  Conference calls may be used for matters that require immediate LPC attention or for working groups/committees if they are formed.   

16) Must LPC meetings be held in the evening, or may they also be held during the day?

LPC meetings should be held at the best time to accommodate LPC members – whether during the day or evening.  The public is welcome to attend no matter when the meetings are scheduled.   

17) How will LPCs make decisions?

The LPC decision-making process will be left up to the discretion of each individual LPC.  With public input, LPCs will help to determine the vision, goals, objectives, strategies, and projects for the DRI municipality.  Each consultant and state planner team will work with their respective LPC to establish a process for decision making – whether by consensus or voting.

18) How many public engagement events will be required, and will they need to address specific plan components?

A minimum of three public meetings is required.  However, Local Planning Committees are encouraged to work with the consultant and state planning teams to creatively and consistently engage the public throughout the planning process beyond the three meetings.  To this end, the consultant team will draft a public engagement strategy that specifies the level, type, format, and purpose of engagement most appropriate for the specific community. Once approved by all parties, this strategy will be used to as a guide for community engagement in the DRI.

Public engagement events will not be required to address specific plan components; however they should be scheduled at appropriate times to inform the planning process.       

19) What milestone dates have been established for project deliverables?

The Request for Proposals identified one significant milestone, that the Final DRI plan must be completed in February of 2017.  Consultant teams have prepared project timelines with appropriate interim milestones to ensure project components are completed in time to provide the final DRI plan in February 2017.

20) What website resources will be available for the DRI?

The state has developed a DRI project website: https://www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative which provides general program information and also includes a webpage with information and announcements for each of the ten downtowns selected to participate in the DRI.  Information posted on the website includes DRI applications, maps of each of the downtowns, planning committee lists, meeting and event notices, presentations and other products developed for the DRIs, and other relevant and useful information. Public input can also be accepted on the website using a comment form.

21) What is the scope of work for the consultant teams?

Each team of consultants will provide the expertise and technical services required to complete a detailed and actionable Strategic Investment Plan to achieve revitalization of each of the downtowns. These services will fall into the following ten basic tasks:

  • Local Planning Committee Coordination
  • Create and Implement a Community Engagement Strategy
  • Prepare Downtown Profile and Assessment
  • Develop Downtown Vision, Goals and Objectives
  • Develop Revitalization Strategy Outline
  • Develop Revitalization Strategies and Action Plan
  • Develop Priority Project Profiles
  • Develop an Implementation Strategy
  • Propose Performance Indicators/Metrics
  • Complete the Final DRI Plan

22) Will the planning effort revolve just around major projects and their impact?

The DRI planning effort will include a robust public planning process that will develop a community vision, goals, objectives, strategies and action plan.  The action plan will include both large- and small-scale projects as well as a variety of initiatives and programs for achieving identified strategies.   

23) Will use of mapping and graphics be encouraged as part of the planning effort (i.e. to visualize potential changes)?

Mapping, renderings and other graphics are encouraged to provide suitable presentation to convey a clear understanding of the story – vision, objectives, strategies, actions and projects. 

Strategic Investment Plan
Strategic Investment Plan
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24) Must the DRI strategic investment plan include descriptions of previously completed planning efforts or just reference those efforts when necessary?

The DRI strategic investment plan should include short descriptions of recently completed planning efforts and reference other planning initiatives as necessary to provide adequate context. To the extent that existing plans or strategies have already been developed for a particular a downtown, the consultants will build on, rather than replicate, such plans.

25) Will timelines or project phases need to be estimated?

The strategic investment plan will provide an overall timeline in the form of an implementation schedule for all projects and other actions recommended within the plan. Where a specific project consists of several phases, a project-specific timeline may be included in the project profile.

26) What kind of projects may be recommended in the DRI plans?

The DRI Strategic Investment Plans are expected to include an extensive list of projects that may be implemented with a variety of public and private resources, including but not limited to the $10 million DRI allocation.   Recommended projects may range in cost and scale from small improvements to large-scale construction projects, from local programs and zoning updates to major infrastructure projects.   

27) What level of detail and justification must appear in the revitalization plan for DRI and non-DRI funded projects?

For each proposed project, a detailed profile is expected that presents the project in the context of the overall revitalization plan, and describes the relationship of the project to other priority projects. Sufficient information should be presented to provide a clear path forward to implementation, including a project rendering, map, estimated cost, required permits, timeframe, project partners, and potential funding sources. The profile shall describe the catalytic impact of the project, including estimates for job creation and retention, where relevant.

28) Will a projection of estimated cost and fiscal impact of each of proposed project be required?

For each proposed project that may be funded through the DRI allocation, a detailed profile will be prepared and included in the Strategic Investment Plan that presents the project in the context of the overall vision and strategies for revitalization, and describes the relationship of the project to other priority projects. Sufficient information must be presented to provide a clear path forward to implementation, including a project rendering, map, estimated cost, required permits, timeframe, project partners, and potential funding sources. The profile will describe the catalytic impact of the project, including estimates for job creation and retention, where relevant.

29) Will an assessment of possible funding sources need to be provided for each proposed project?

An assessment of possible funding sources should be undertaken for projects recommended in the Strategic Investment Plan.  Both public and private sources of potential funding for each project should be identified in the Plan, including but not limited to funds through New York State’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA), other state funds, private capital, and other potential funding sources.

30) Are DRI funds limited to capital projects, such as infrastructure, or can DRI funding be used for projects such as promotion or marketing of the downtown, rezoning, or establishment of local policies?

DRI funds are not restricted to capital projects, and it is expected that a variety of economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects will be identified for funding. Downtown marketing, rezoning, and development of local policies may all be considered as potential projects for DRI funding.

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31) How will progress toward implementation of the DRI plans be made available to the public?

It is anticipated that the state’s DRI website will continue to serve as a source of information for the Initiative. Final Strategic Investment Plans will be posted and updates will be provided on DRI-funded projects.

32) Will the funds be provided on a reimbursement basis or upfront?

The financial terms for payment will be determined based on the type of project.

33) May funds be used as match for NYS or federal grant funding?

The DRI funds may be used as match for other grant funding if the permitted by the granting agency.

34) What is the role of the State in reviewing or approving other projects that may be included in the DRI Plan?

The State will review the DRI strategic investment plans but will not necessarily approve projects beyond those proposed for DRI funding.  The purpose of presenting the full range of projects that are possible in each downtown is to get a clear understanding of leveraging opportunities and how projects and actions may be interconnected.

35) How and when will funds be disbursed and by what agency/agencies? 

Projects selected for DRI funding will be assigned to the appropriate state agency to manage implementation of the project. The state agency selected and method of funding disbursement will be dependent on the specific project.