State to Collaborate with Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Downtown Jamestown
Western New York Project Will Transform Downtown Jamestown, Create Jobs and Boost Local Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Downtown Jamestown was selected as the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Western New York. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, first laid out in the Governor’s 2016 State of the State address, marks a comprehensive plan to transform local neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live and work.
The winner was selected as part of a competitive process by the state's Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and will receive $10 million in state funding to revitalize the local neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth and prosperity. The award will include up to $300,000 in planning funds for private sector experts to work with a local planning committee to draft a Strategic Investment Plan that will identify specific economic development, transportation, and housing and community projects. The grant is part of a $100 million effort to improve the urban vitality of city centers across the state. Plans will be completed by early 2017.
"Investments in downtown communities are paying dividends by creating jobs, attracting businesses, and new talent across upstate New York," Governor Cuomo said. "This initiative will capitalize on Jamestown's cultural and historical vigor, upgrade critical infrastructure, and continue to attract employment opportunities and private investment to the region. With this investment, Jamestown will build on its progress and serve as a model for economic growth and opportunity for generations to come."
"Governor Cuomo's unprecedented Downtown Revitalization Initiative acknowledges that thriving urban centers are key to changing attitudes and bringing people back to our communities," said Regional Economic Development Chair Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "I have seen first-hand how revitalizing one downtown can be transformative for an entire region. With support from the Regional Council, that's exactly what we expect will happen here."
"Governor Cuomo's ground-up approach to economic development has allowed New York’s regional councils to drive business growth, create jobs and build stronger communities across the state," said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. "This investment will help Jamestown reach its greatest potential by breathing a new life to one of Western New York’s key urban centers. Through collaboration with state and local officials, we are investing in the region's strengths to build a bustling downtown and show everyone that Jamestown is a thriving community to live and work."
The City of Jamestown
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.
Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is chaired by former New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, along with a team of planners from the Department of State and private sector experts, with support from Empire State Development, the Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and other state agencies.
Each Regional Council weighed seven criteria in selecting their nominee:
- The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
- The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizeable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
- The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
- There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable.
- The downtown must contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces.
- The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, complete streets plans, or transit-oriented development; and
- Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal James S. Rubin said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is another example of Governor Cuomo's innovative approach to economic development. By building on existing assets, including high-quality housing that incorporates retail and other conveniences for people at a variety of income levels, we will help downtowns reach their full potential as attractive, affordable places to live and work. Congratulations to the 10 communities that put their best foot forward to win this funding. I look forward to seeing the results."
Chair of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Cesar A. Perales said, "It was a pleasure working with all of the Regional Economic Development Councils throughout this community-driven process. The REDC members had a very difficult task in making their selections among the many strong candidates in each region. My thanks to the REDCs and my congratulations to the winning communities."
Regional Economic Development Councils
Round VI of the REDC initiative will award more than $750 million in state funding and tax incentives. In 2016, all 10 REDCs will be competing for a designation as a Top Performer. Five Top Performers will be selected and will receive up to $25 million in Empire State Development Capital Grant funding, with the remaining five regions receiving up to $10 million. Additionally, each region will be eligible for up to $15 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow businesses in the region.
Regional Council priorities in 2016 include:
- Support the Downtown Revitalization Initiative Plan, and begin to identify priority projects in the defined community;
- Implementing strategies through the project pipeline;
- Training the workforce for today and tomorrow; and
- Measuring the performance and progress of the strategic plan and CFA projects.
By incentivizing the implementation of the strategic plans, Regional Councils, businesses, educational institutions, local governments, not-for-profit groups and other stakeholders are further motivated to work together to accomplish the regional vision. While project funding will be awarded to all 10 Regional Councils through the 2016 CFA, the competition places emphasis on Regional Council performance and action to implement strategies. Encouraging genuine cooperation among the REDCs and representatives of the community is critical to achieving economic development success.
In addition to the $10 million available to the winning Downtown Revitalization Initiative communities, state agencies will be awarding priority points through the CFA to additional downtown revitalization projects designed to transform communities ripe for development into vibrant, thriving neighborhoods.
Senator Cathy Young said, "Investing in our downtown area is critical for ensuring continued economic prosperity for Jamestown. Now, through Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiate, we are investing in our city and helping it grow into a center of economic opportunity. This investment will make our city the ideal location for residents and visitors alike to live and work and I am excited to continue this city’s economic momentum in the years to come."
Assemblyman Andy Goodell said, "In recent years, the city of Jamestown has seen significant public and private investment, such as the National Comedy Center and WC Hospital. With this $10 million, we are building on our progress and transforming Jamestown into an urban core of Western New York. This initiative will breathe a new life into our city and I am confident our success will reverberate throughout the Western New York community. I thank Governor Cuomo and look forward to what we will accomplish moving forward."
Chautauqua County Vince Horrigan said, "This investment will help us continue to build a more vibrant downtown that will attract new businesses, high-paying jobs, and skilled workers throughout Chautauqua County and the surrounding region. By building on the unique cultural, historical, and entertainment attractions and business opportunities this city is home to, we are creating a framework for economic growth that will keep Jamestown and Chautauqua County on the move. I thank Governor Cuomo for his support and I look forward to seeing the heart of this city grow."
Jamestown Mayor Samuel Teresi said, "Downtown Jamestown is the heartbeat of our region and under Governor Cuomo, we are investing in our potential like never before. With $10 million to put toward in renovating historic landmarks and critical infrastructure projects, we are literally laying the groundwork for a vibrant economic hub that will continue to generate growth for years to come. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we can look to the future of Jamestown as an economic blueprint that will serve as a model for upstate communities."
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