10 Downtown Revitalization Projects Upgrade City's Infrastructure and Support New Technology to Attract Industry Talent
Complements "CNY Rising" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 10 transformational projects for Cortland as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. The strategic investments in downtown Cortland will reimagine the city's infrastructure and main street while harnessing technology and talent to improve the city's quality of life. The investments are part of the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for Central New York.
"As a gateway to the heart of the state, Cortland is strategically located to benefit from a talented workforce driven by the nearby hub of higher education institutions," Governor Cuomo said. "These targeted investments will help to make downtown Cortland a sought-after destination for young talent seeking a community where they can work, enjoy the arts, and gather with family and friends all in one neighborhood."
Cortland was named a DRI Round 2 winner in October. Cortland's downtown is the core of the Central Business district and is within walking distance to SUNY Cortland and Tompkins Cortland Community College Extension. The area consists of 450 businesses within a half mile radius from the center of downtown, employing approximately 5,100 people making this area the largest employer in Cortland County. As a gateway to both Central New York and the Finger Lakes, the City of Cortland is a magnet for hundreds of thousands of tourists annually. It also serves county residents and SUNY Cortland students as the primary shopping area in the county, consisting primarily of commercial and residential mixed-use attached buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cortland envisions development that creates new space for community activities and additional housing to accommodate an expanding residential and tourism population. The city plans to guide the redevelopment of its downtown through the expansion of the creative economy, building a complete downtown neighborhood, and re-imagining its infrastructure for the 21st century.
The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:
Advance the Crown City Artworks Project: Install public art, such as sculptures, murals, or curated exhibits, at select locations throughout the downtown to enhance the appeal and attractiveness of the area. New art installations on blank walls, in small gardens, and on sidewalks will create a unique experience for residents and visitors alike. ($200,000)
Create a Downtown Pocket Park on Main Street: Develop a downtown pocket park on a centrally-located vacant property on Main Street. New landscaping, seating and lighting will transform a city-owned lot between 10 and 16 Main Street into an oasis for family gatherings and lunch breaks, as well as a small event space. ($250,000)
Develop a new Multi-Use Entertainment Facility: Renovate a vacant historic building at 28 Main Street to create a multi-use entertainment facility with bowling lanes, live performance space, kitchen and bar, audio/visual recording studio, and rooftop park. The adaptive reuse of this historic structure will boost nightlife and weekend activity in the downtown area. ($975,000)
Establish Vine Health and Fitness Gym: Provide funding for renovation of space for a gym and a 2,000-sq. ft. physical therapy center in an existing commercial building to meet intergenerational demand for high-tech healthy living resources and support downtown livability. ($270,752)
Create a Building Owner/ Business Startup Loan and Grant Fund: Create a revolving loan and grant fund that will assist property owners to renovate and upgrade commercial and residential buildings in the downtown. Improvements may include sign and façade improvements, upper story housing restoration, and commercial space renovation, with an emphasis on projects that reduce the city's environmental footprint. The fund may also assist new businesses with start-up costs such as marketing and fit-out of commercial space. ($600,000)
Establish the SUNY Cortland Institute of Applied Geospatial and Drone Technology: The Institute for Geospatial and Drone Technology will serve as a resource for entrepreneurs and startup companies as Cortland strives to become the leading hub for GIS and drone fields in Central NY. Funding will be used to renovate existing space on Main Street to provide meeting and office spaces; purchase drones, software, and hardware; and install an outdoor drone testing facility. ($100,000)
Renovate Four Downtown Buildings for a Vibrant Mix of New Commercial and Residential Uses: Renovate four buildings to expand commercial opportunities and promote synergy with residential uses. Buildings include: 13-15 Central Ave, an underused commercial building that will be transformed into 9,000 sq. feet of office/retail space; 73 Main Street, a historic building that will include office space and two third-floor apartment units; 37-39 Port Watson Street, which will be made over into four new apartments (two of which will be ADA accessible) and will feature the conversion of the building's side alley into an inviting pedestrian walkway; 83-85 Main Street, a chronically vacant building that anchors the south end of the corridor will include three floors of market-rate housing to provide more options for downtown living. ($1,345,000)
Complete the Cortland Business Innovation Center: Complete the conversion of a vacant building into the Cortland Business Innovation Center, which will serve as downtown's hub for commerce and culture and a resource for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Innovation Center will provide retail incubation for four businesses on the first floor, eight co-working and startup offices on the second floor, and space for one entrepreneur in residence on the third floor. Funds will be used for completion of interior build-out of the first and second floors, as well as facade improvements. ($484,000)
Reimagine Main Street Infrastructure and Streetscape: Transform Main Street to a two-way street with parking, streetscape, and pedestrian improvements that will increase traffic safety and accessibility to the downtown. Project includes design work and modernization of water, drainage, and sanitary infrastructure that will accommodate private sector investments. Improvements will also be made to the road to add bump outs and mid-block crosswalks, as well as streetscape improvements to promote walking as an alternate transportation option in the compact downtown area. ($5,089,248)
Provide Downtown WiFi and Improve Connectivity: Build-out the backbone and "last mile" data delivery infrastructure to bring high speed internet to both residential and commercial customers. Offering a public Wi-Fi network will ensure that the downtown is attractive to business owners who require the amenity for provision of services, and will encourage residents and visitors to stay downtown longer. ($386,000)
Cortland developed a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI 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 downtown Cortland 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.
The DRI projects are the latest example of Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to Cortland and Central New York. The Governor recently announced a $1 million investment to renovate the nearly vacant P&C Plaza into a non-profit hub as part of his Restore New York Communities initiative. In February, Governor Cuomo announced the completion of phase one of a mixed-use development project at 51-55 Main Street.
"Cortland has a bright future with its downtown serving as a cultural, educational and economic hub for Central New York," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "With hundreds of businesses within a half-mile of the center of downtown that employ thousands, the city of Cortland is poised to be a major economic driver of the Central NY Rising strategy. These projects funded as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will advance technology and improve quality of life in the area."
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative highlights the technological and entrepreneurial advancements of Cortland, while driving focus to keep people and businesses in the downtown areas."
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Projects in Cortland supported through the DRI will help create a walkable downtown, with investments that encourage new business growth and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors."
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Through Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, these community-led, targeted investments will combine with HCR's $188 million investment in Central New York over the last seven years that has created affordable housing for about 7,700 residents to help ensure that as Cortland's economy grows, all New Yorkers have the opportunity to take part. In New York State, we are lucky to have a Governor who understands how to build inclusive, long-term economic success."
Senator James L. Seward said, "Cortland won New York State DRI funding thanks to a plan that exhibited a compelling vision for economic development and community growth centered on the downtown hub. These winning projects, conceived by local stakeholders, will help fulfill that vision and lead to new economic possibilities. Cortland has a storied history and this transformational initiative has the entire region pointed toward a prosperous future."
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, "These are exciting times for Cortland. These transformative projects supported by the state's $10 million downtown revitalization grant will help downtown Cortland grow into a vibrant hub of entertainment, arts, and hospitality. I was proud to support this funding in Albany, and I want to thank everyone who worked to select these smart and forward-looking projects that will benefit downtown Cortland, as well as Governor Cuomo for his continued support of downtown revitalization throughout the state of New York."
City of Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said, "We are honored and proud of this wonderful recognition. Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is leading to dramatic improvements to our community. These investments will spur further growth and help Cortland continue to be a hub in Central New York."
Accelerating Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative.