Funding Advances 13 Projects to Enhance Connections Between Downtown and the Waterfront; Repurpose Existing Buildings; and Bolster the Local Arts Scene
Downtown Revitalization Initiative Funds Key Catalytic Projects Continuing the Governor's Goal to Enrich Communities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 13 projects in Schenectady that will create connections between the city's growing downtown and waterfront developments, transform existing buildings to create mixed-used spaces, and enhance the local arts scene. Funded through Schenectady's $10 million award through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, these investments reflect the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities throughout the Capital Region.
"Our efforts to rebuild New York's economy back stronger and better than it was before depend on having a bold vision for the future," Governor Cuomo said. "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is helping communities like Schenectady to connect local hubs of economic activity, revitalize underused or dormant buildings and embrace their collective vision for a better, more prosperous tomorrow."
"Through our Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are strengthening Schenectady's historic charm by further connecting the waterfront with its growing downtown," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "The projects announced today will not only strengthen the local economy but give a much-needed boost to small businesses as we focus on our economic recovery."
Schenectady - Capital Region
Schenectady was named Round 4 winner in November 2019. Schenectady will leverage recent momentum and investment in the Mill District, Mohawk Harbor, and Downtown to create a more cohesive, vibrant destination for visitors, residents, and businesses. The focus of these projects is on making connections between the city's growing downtown and waterfront development. This includes pedestrian, vehicular, and biking connections integrated with wayfinding and signage. The projects also prioritize new mixed-use development projects to attract new businesses, jobs, and activity along Erie Boulevard, a major connector between these growing areas.
Projects funded through the initiative will:
- Transform Underutilized Blocks Near State and Clinton Streets - $2,750,000: Transformative redevelopment of three underutilized city blocks into a mixed-use development featuring 90-plus apartments, 5,000-square-feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of medical office space, and parking through adaptive reuse of existing buildings and new construction.
- Renovate Historic Structures for Adaptive Reuse, Alchemy Urban Playground - $300,000: Renovate two buildings on Erie Boulevard to create four art studios for local artists, a retail gallery, an event space, and two maker/ training spaces. Focus on skills training for minorities and youth.
- Improve Facades and Structures Along Key Corridors - $600,000: Facade improvement fund will enhance existing buildings in three corridors including Lower State Street, Lafayette Street, and Little Italy.
- Complete Building Improvements for SEAT Workforce Training Center - $428,000: Complete façade and site improvements to finish an extensive building renovation that will house the SEAT Workforce Training Center for Young Adults.
- Renovate Former Cohn Building to Create New Retail and Office Space - $425,000: Renovate a vacant building into a mixed-use space with ground floor retail and second floor of office and create 28 new parking spaces nearby.
- Extend North Jay Street and Improve Maxon Road - $2,000,000: Extend North Jay Street from its dead-end northeast to the intersection of Nott Street and Maxon Road, creating a new connection between downtown and Mohawk Harbor.
- Install New Lighting Along Clinton St and North Broadway - $875,000: Replace existing street lighting with energy-efficient LED lighting capable of also supporting 'smart city' technology. Clinton Street between State Street and Franklin Street and North Broadway between State Street and Union Street.
- Extend the Alco Heritage Trail and Construct the Empire State Trail Gateway - $760,000: Extend the Alco Heritage Trail from its existing terminus at River Street to Front Street Park. Install an informational kiosk and small plaza area at Mohawk Harbor as a gateway to the New York State Empire Trail that provides wayfinding and tourism information.
- Improve City Hall Square and Jay Street Traffic Circulation - $425,000: Public square Improvements around city hall and conversion of Jay Street to two-way traffic between city hall and Union Street.
- Reopen and Upgrade the Alco Tunnel Trail - $350,000: Improve an existing tunnel with lighting and connecting paths to allow for pedestrian and cyclist connections between Erie Boulevard and Jay Street/Mohawk Hudson Bikeway.
- Install Public Art Throughout Downtown - $287,000: Multi-faceted public art initiative to create and install murals, interactive art pieces, sculptural seating, and a historic statue.
- Upgrade the Jay Street Pedestrian Walkway - $250,000: Public space, lighting, and drainage improvements to support local businesses along this popular walkway.
- Improve Signage and Wayfinding - $250,000: Install new signage to guide residents and visitors through the study area, highlighting historical and cultural destinations.
Schenectady developed a strategic investment plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million grant. A local planning committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The strategic investment plan for Schenectady examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative investments have the power to reinvigorate local communities, particularly after challenges brought on by COVID-19. These strategic projects, selected through a collaborative planning process, will leverage private investments to help Schenectady realize its vision for a vibrant downtown closely linked to its developing waterfront. I look forward to seeing these exciting projects come to life in Schenectady."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The 13 community-guided projects announced today will reinvigorate Schenectady for residents and visitors alike through improved cityscapes and stronger physical links between downtown and the waterfront. With the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, we are investing in stronger urban cores so cities like Schenectady can flourish and reach their full economic potential."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "Downtown Schenectady is a hub for arts, entertainment, food and culture, anchored by recent public and private investments in Mohawk Harbor, and throughout the State Street and Erie Boulevard corridors. Building upon this foundation and utilizing assets like the Mohawk River waterfront and Empire State Trail, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects will help the City to generate new developments while supporting the needs of the community."
Capital Region Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Ruth Mahoney, KeyBank Market President, and Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, University at Albany President, said, "Schenectady has been experiencing a renaissance, thanks to strategic investments that have attracted new residents and jobs to the city. The projects supported through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will build upon that progress and help to create a connected urban core that will welcome new businesses and new visitors to spur economic growth."
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, "My administration has worked closely with the economic team led by Metroplex to successfully transform vacant and abandoned space into vibrant, job creating economic engines for our community. With this award we will build back better and leverage the momentum of our thriving downtown and revitalized waterfront. We thank the state of New York for moving forward with these projects and thank the local planning committee and community members who participated in the planning and outreach process."
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
In 2016, Governor Cuomo launched a major new initiative —the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Through this initiative, the Governor moved to aggressively accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment in all ten regions of the state. The initiative represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.
In four years, the state has committed $400 million to invest in downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation, and each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization.
The initiative is headed by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. Communities receive support from private sector experts and a team of state agency staff led by the Department of State in close partnership with Empire State Development, and state Homes and Community Renewal.