Projects Have Helped Breathe Life Into Buildings

The majority of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects statewide have gone to breathe new life into old buildings.

An examination of the 29 plan summaries on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s website show that 119 projects, including Jamestown, either have spent or will spend $97,019,749 in state money on a variety of renovation projects. The second most popular use of the DRI money (34 projects, $44,102,114) is the creation of entirely new attractions or new buildings.

Four other uses dominated the use of DRI money. The 30 Downtown Revitalization Initiative cities have 27 projects totaling $44,166,800 for infrastructure projects. There are 26 projects totaling $23,833,316 that spent money on parks, public piazzas or other public gathering spaces while 26 projects totaling $37,978,317 are for various measures to make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate downtown areas. The final major use of money (25 projects, $16,189,030 cost) is to create funds that will be used for a variety of purposes ranging from downtown events to business startup grants.

Jamestown is spending its money on six building renovation projects totaling $7,495,000, one pedestrian-oriented project ($610,000), a Fund for Downtown Events ($600,000), an excursion train study ($670,000) and waterfront amenities in the area near the Chadakoin River ($325,000).


Among Albany’s $10 million worth of projects is a $1,100,000 project to create a venue for pop-up events, vendors and public use along the Skyway, which Albany officials say will convert an underutilized parking ramp into a linear park connecting the downtown to the Hudson River riverfront. According to the Albany Times Union, the project is supposed to cost $15 million, with the state injecting additional funding through the Regional Economic Development Council process.

“One of the challenges right now to our riverfront connections is it’s very difficult to tell there’s a connection to the beautiful Corning Preserve and Hudson River, because you can’t see it from downtown,” Sarah Reginelli, Capitalize Albany president, told The Times-Union last year. “This will be that beacon that will pull people into the Skyway.”

Albany’s plan also spends $2 million on a Create Live, Work and Exhibition Space for artists that includes performance space for a local theatre company, lofts in which artists can live and work and provides gallery and event space in an emerging entertainment district.

The bulk of Amsterdam’s DRI grant is a $2.5 million building rehabilitation to create a community center and build a new recreation center. The complex will include a computer lab, art gallery, shared kitchen and facilities for reading, music, tutoring, recreation, painting, photography and movies.

According to the Amsterdam Recorder News, the project had been discussed for several years. The complex could complement ongoing developments in Amsterdam.

Auburn officials are spending $1,868,974 to make architectural and site improvements to unify the Schweinfurth Art Center and Cayuga Museum of History and Arts into an arts and entertainment district that include an outdoor walkway, new plazas, entryways to the museums and other amenities. Another $1.2 million is being spent to renovate an old strip mall into a city and county Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Management Office. Another $1 million is redeveloping a vacant site into a public plaza for events, festivals and socializing to round out the State Street Creative Corridor. Auburn also spent $931,801 to rehabilitate a vacant three-story building into a peer recovery facility for those battling addiction.

Roughly 40% of Batavia’s DRI funding went to develop an intergenerational Healthy Living Campus in downtown Batavia. The building will include a medical building, a new home for the Genesee Area YMCA and parking for 300 vehicles while generating 3,000 visits downtown each day. Another $1 million is developing the City Centre into an indoor market and performance space with micro-retail kiosks. Cortland officials chose to use more than half of its money ($5,029,248) on a new Main Street streetscape and infrastructure project that modernizes water, drainage and sanitary sewers, crosswalks and streetscape improvements that promote walking rather than driving downtown.

Geneva’s plan features $1.25 million to establish the Lake Tuinnel Solar Village, a development project that includes housing, public amenities and a demonstration project for LifeCube, which uses solar electric and heat pump technology to provide all of the electric and heat needs for the site. Glens Falls proposed using $5 million to construct the Market on South Steet, a downtown anchor building that provides space for a farmer’s market, retail development and an incubator/test kitchen. The building will promote the region’s agriculture, increase healthy food options and include public green space. A $500,000 complimentary development moves the SUNY Adirondack culinary school into downtown Glens Falls.

Jamaica was approved for a $1.65 million project to create a shared workspace for local entrepreneurs and independent professionals in a building run by the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. The space can accommodate up to 90 users. Jamaica also spent $2.655 million on broadband for downtown Jamaica and $1 million to improve dining options and nightlife activity in the downtown area.

Lockport officials used $2.2 million for its Spaulding Mill project to create a rooftop venue, outdoor event space and hillside amphitheater around an old mill building while also spending $1.795 million to rehabilitate an old post office into a restaurant or event space, coffee shop, boutique ship or office space. Similar to the proposed Furniture Mart project in Jamestown, Lockport officials also programmed $1.35 million to transform the Farmers and Mechanics Building, the tallest structure in Lockport, into a mixed-used development with commercial space on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floors.

One of the largest amounts of money spent in the DRI program is $6 million for what New Rochelle officials call “The Linc.” The plan will remove and repurpose the eastbound portion of state Route 5 as public open space. Oswego officials spent $500,000 to build a new Lake Ontario Water Park as part of its plan, which also includes $2 million to help turn a downtown eyesore into a commercial space with housing units and $2 million to build a multi-building, mixed-used commercial and residential project to replace several existing buildings and a vacant lot. The water park is projected to cost $4.5 million. The park is scheduled to open in November or December 2020.

Plattsburgh spent $4.3 million to partner with a private developer redevelop a parking lot into a mixed-use development with commercial space and residential units. Another $1.6 million was spent on riverfront access projects that include a riverwalk, park upgrades, creation of an overlook for the river and a kayak service.

Saranac Lake used $1,077,769 of its DRI award to create a series of linked gateway parks, another $1,062,073 to better link retail, recreation and municipal amenities in its downtown and $2.5 million to transform a former paint store into a performance facility for the Pendragon Theater.

Watertown used $1.212 million to rehabilitate a downtown business to house Jefferson Community College’s TechSpace to support entrepreneurs and offer workforce training downtown. SUNY2020 is contributing another $4 million toward the project.

Watkins Glen used $2,017,428 to make year-round improvements at one of its parks which include an ice rink and splash pad.


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