State to Collaborate with Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Utica's Downtown
Part of Governor's Comprehensive Approach to Transform Communities into Vibrant Neighborhoods and Boost Local Economies
Downtown Revitalization Investments Are Crucial Part of Mohawk Valley's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Utica's Downtown Genesee Street area will receive $10 million in funding as the Mohawk Valley's winner of the fourth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. As in the first three rounds of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions is selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family.
"Utica's recent growth shows the city has immense potential as a business hub and cultural destination" Governor Cuomo said. "Like other downtown communities here in the Mohawk Valley and across the state, the Genesee Street neighborhood has an opportunity to maximize its potential as a Downtown Revitalization Initiative winner, and we look forward to seeing the local community's vision for itself come to life."
"The Mohawk Valley is growing with new businesses and development, and this significant funding as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will continue that momentum of progress," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The DRI will strengthen Utica's commercial corridor and enhance the downtown core with increased connectivity and new developments. The Mohawk Valley is a hub for high-tech business and innovation, and this strategic investment will grow the economy to improve quality of life and help attract more businesses, residents and visitors to the area."
Genesee Street, Utica's primary commercial corridor, has emerged as a hub for growing finance, hospitality, and arts and cultural offerings and serves as the seat of the City and Oneida County government and civic affairs. Previous efforts to enhance the area's pedestrian and cyclist amenities, leverage central and historic anchor buildings, promote inclusivity, and stimulate the growth of new businesses have rendered the increasingly young and diverse neighborhood ready for catalytic DRI investment. Adopting a people-centric creative placemaking approach, Utica will leverage the DRI support to build a downtown that unites the community, attracts new residents and visitors, and stimulates economic investment. Strategies supporting the community vision for "Connecting People, Place, and Purpose" include activating public spaces, recruiting entrepreneurs, revitalizing historic or vacant buildings, advancing multimodal transit efforts, and developing mixed-use housing options.
The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council (MVREDC) went through a competitive review process of proposals from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Utica as its nominee for winner:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its 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 be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, including existing residents, millennials and skilled workers;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years.
Utica's fourth-round DRI win entitles the city to receive $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth. Utica now joins the Cities of Oneonta, Rome and Amsterdam, which were the Mohawk Valley's winners in the first three DRI rounds, respectively.
Utica's recent growth shows the city has immense potential as a business hub and cultural destination.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, "The renaissance that is happening in Utica on Genesee Street and beyond is proof positive that investing in our downtowns is a smart strategy. Utica is a city on the rise, bustling with diversity, energy, and character and this Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award is another exiting step in its promising future."
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is reviving areas across New York State where people live, shop and work, and Utica will build upon its recent growth with this strategic investment. Thanks to the Governor's program and vision, Utica will bolster the Genesee Street corridor by revitalizing its historic buildings, revamping public spaces and bringing entrepreneurs to the area to create additional economic opportunities."
New York State Home and Community Renewal Commissioner, RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "With this $10 million shot in the arm from the Governor's Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Utica will be able to reach its full potential, capitalize on its strengths, and make the Downtown Genesee Street area a place that attracts people and businesses throughout the Mohawk Valley."
Senator Joe Griffo said, "I am pleased that Utica will be receiving a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award and that the Governor recognizes the importance of investing in Upstate New York communities. This investment will help grow the local and regional economy, nurture job growth and drive economic development in Utica and the Mohawk Valley."
Assembly Member Marianne Buttenschon said, "Thanks to this substantial investment of state funding, the future is looking even brighter for Utica and the Mohawk Valley. This DRI award will enable local leaders to reinvigorate the neighborhood surrounding Genesee Street and breathe new life into our communities. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for investing in the Mohawk Valley, and I'll do everything I can to support this transformative project."
MVREDC Co-Chairs Lawrence T. Gilroy III, President of Gilroy, Kernan & Gilroy, Inc. and Dr. Marion Terenzio, SUNY Cobleskill President, said, "The Utica of today is one of great progress and promise and is becoming a vibrant and dynamic downtown for both residents and visitors alike. This Downtown Revitalization Initiative award will build upon the tremendous progress that has already been made in Utica and will spur additional economic growth and provide new opportunities for people to live work and play."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, "This award will provide a major injection into the ongoing explosion of growth taking place in downtown Utica. It is vital that the seat of Oneida County sets the tone for the entire area, and as the downtown landscape continues to transform with better transportation routes, more dynamic housing options, the return of retail and an elevation of arts, entertainment and recreation, Utica is re-establishing itself as a major player in upstate New York. I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to ensuring our vision is realized and look forward to the new opportunities that will accompany this funding."
City of Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, "The award of this $10 Million for Downtown Utica will continue the revitalization of this great city. Once again, I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to the Greater Utica area, and Downtown Utica, specifically. The Governor has been a great partner in the City's resurgence."
Utica will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $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 will lead the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan for downtown Utica will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The downtown Utica Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI's fourth round will be complete in 2020.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to: www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative.