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State Program To Redevelop Vacant Properties

With a $250 million program, the state hopes to revitalize abandoned properties across New York.

The Restore New York grant program will open for applications on July 11. There will be two rounds of grants, with $100 million available in the first round and $150 million in the second.

All municipalities are eligible to apply for funding. Cities with more than 100,000 people may apply for as much as $5 million for a single project — New York City can seek funding, but the projects must focus on a distressed area of the city.

Cities and villages with 40,000 to 99,999 people can apply for up to $3 million for one project. Smaller municipalities are eligible for up to $2 million for one project.

If a municipality’s application is approved, the funding can be used to redevelop abandoned or vacant buildings.

There will be special awards available for cities, towns and villages with up to 100,000 people and counties with no more than 400,000 people. The counties and municipalities could apply for additional funding — up to $10 million — to support a second project or as part of a larger project. The award would be in addition to the municipality’s initial grant.

These special projects are defined as properties that cause “severe economic injury to the community, leaving, a highly visible and blighted property or properties in the central business district of a highly or moderately distressed community which has a depressing effect on the overall economic development potential of the community.”

One goal of Restore New York is to focus on economically distressed communities. According to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office, there will be an emphasis on projects that are supported by other federal and state funds, and the project’s feasibility and readiness.

“I have traveled to every corner of the state and have seen firsthand the potential that lies in so many of New York’s blighted, older buildings,” Hochul said. “These spaces once had purpose and are now in need of funding and vision to breathe new life into neighborhoods.”

Restore New York will be administered by Empire State Development, the state’s lead economic development agency. ESD, through the program, hopes that the funds will help local governments put abandoned properties back on the tax rolls, which would increase the local tax base. The program also aims to boost commercial investment and provide more housing in communities.

The projects should align with the strategic plan adopted by the municipality’s regional economic development council.

“Restore New York gives municipalities the support they need to create real change in their communities, especially their downtown centers,” said Hope Knight, president and CEO of Empire State Development. “By removing or rehabilitating eyesores that bring down a neighborhood, municipalities have opportunity to revitalize their community and generate new economic opportunities.

More information about the program can be found at esd.ny.gov/restore-new-york. The request for proposals and guidelines will be available on July 11, according to ESD. The deadline for a municipality’s intent to apply is Aug. 11.

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