December 9, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Renovation of the Woolworth Building in Middletown is Complete

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Renovation of the...

Investments of More Than $3.5 Million Made to Renovate Historic Property with the Support of Downtown Revitalization Initiative

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of renovations on the Woolworth Building that brought new retail spaces in the formerly abandoned building. The retail spaces, made possible with a $3.5-million-plus investment, line a pedestrian corridor that serves as a spur of the Heritage Trail and a gateway to the downtown.

"The transformation of the formerly vacant Woolworth Building into a bustling retail hub is a huge step forward for the City of Middletown," Governor Cuomo said. "The completion of this latest Downtown Revitalization Initiative project increases access to restaurants and improves the walkability of the downtown, leading to a more vibrant community for residents and visitors to enjoy."

"The City of Middletown is focused on preserving and enhancing its culture and history while growing its downtown and attracting more residents and visitors," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With funding as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the city has been revitalizing its downtown with the transformation of the Woolworth Building serving as a catalyst. The renovation of the historic property into the Rail Trail Commons will house retail space and increase connectivity with the Orange County Heritage Trail and Erie Way Park. Middletown serves as a model for communities across the state, and this development is only the beginning to enhance quality of life and strengthen the economy."

The former Woolworth building, vacant for over 30 years, has been renovated and reimagined as the Rail Trail Commons, an arcade-style retail building with storefronts facing a central corridor that will be integrated into the downtown spur of the Orange County Heritage Trail. The three retail establishments selected to occupy the storefronts will bring new activity to the downtown and become a destination for residents and visitors alike. The businesses include: 

  • Farmer & Baker, a food market and bakery specializing in artisan breads, and seasonal foods sourced from the owners' farm as well as other local farms and producers;
  • Painted Horse, an artisan chocolate shop that will also offer chocolate-making classes;
  • Oak & Reed, a farm-to-table restaurant that will serve locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients with an emphasis on supporting local farms and businesses.

The City of Middletown received a $2.5 million DRI capital grant to complete renovations and create retail ready spaces.  The project supports the following DRI strategies:

  • Create "move-in ready" sites and building spaces that can be occupied by a mix of stores, restaurants and offices, including repurposing existing buildings to preserve the downtown character.
  • Reclaim vacant and underused sites and buildings to activate spaces and expand the City's tax base.
  • Expand the availability of convenience retail, restaurants, and other amenities that serve neighborhood residents and enhance quality-of-life.
  • Attract, create and retain jobs for residents and newcomers.
  • Stimulate innovation through business incubators.

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The transformation of the Woolworth Building into the Rail Trail Commons showcases how Middletown is capitalizing on the Governor's DRI program to create a thriving downtown community for residents and visitors to enjoy."

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "Thriving downtowns create economic growth, new jobs and a better quality of life for workers and families, and I am pleased to see Middletown's transformation move forward through the Woolworth Building's adaptive reuse."

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched in 2016 the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a $100 million effort to improve the vitality of urban centers across New York State. The City of Middletown was selected as a Round One DRI winner for Mid-Hudson, receiving $10 million based on the strength of its vision for downtown renewal. Middletown's vision is for the downtown to become a thriving and economically viable focal point of the City and surrounding region, welcoming new and diverse residents, businesses and visitors, while remembering and building upon its storied heritage. The downtown will be a destination and community for people of all ages and backgrounds to live, work, dine, shop, and gather, in an attractive, safe and culturally rich environment.

City of Middletown Mayor Joseph M. DeStefano said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his confidence and faith in our city by awarding this $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding. This program has created a tremendous amount of excitement in our downtown and has triggered a significant infusion of private sector investment, creation of additional housing units and public infrastructure improvements. This process has been challenging and we are now reaping the rewards with the opening of this former Woolworth building, now Rail Trail Commons hosting three new businesses and creating jobs in our downtown."

Senator Jennifer Metzger said, "North Street's new Rail Trail Commons exemplifies the kind of transformative impact that the Governor's Downtown Revitalization Initiative can have on our small cities, and I congratulate the City of Middletown on this visionary project that joins recreational opportunities afforded by the Heritage Trail with improvements to the downtown business district. These investments will draw businesses and people to the heart of the city, benefiting the community and local economy for years to come." 

Assembly Member Aileen Gunther said,"I want to thank the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for their steadfast dedication to improving the look and feel of downtown Middletown. We've made tremendous strides over the past few years and the completion of the Woolworth Building project is another accomplishment for our city.  The investments made through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will continue to better the lives of the people living in Middletown and those who visit."

Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, "Bustling downtowns such as Middletown's are a vital part of the backbone of Orange County's communities and I congratulate the City on the completion of this important project. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will help boost Middletown's economy and support local business. I thank Governor Cuomo for this investment in the City of Middletown and Orange County." 

Mid-Hudson REDC Co-Chair and SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said, "Middletown's Downtown Revitalization Initiative provides new economic and quality-of-life opportunities for the area's residents and potential for future growth. I am proud that the Woolworth Building's renovation will foster new businesses and create new jobs in the community."

For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to:  https://www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative

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