August 3, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Village of Watkins Glen as $10 Million Southern Tier Region Winner of Second-Round Downtown Revitalization Initiative

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Village of Watkins...

State to Collaborate with Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize the Village of Watkins Glen's Downtown

Part of Governor's Comprehensive Approach to Transform Communities into Vibrant Neighborhoods and Boost Local Economies

Supports "Southern Tier Soaring" - the Region's Strategic Plan to Grow Regional Economies and Create New Opportunities

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Village of Watkins Glen will receive $10 million in funding and investments as the Southern Tier winner of the second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. As in the first round of the DRI, one municipality from each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions will be selected as a $10 million winner, marking another overall state goal to target $100 million in funding and investments to help communities identify catalytic downtown projects to boost the local economy. 

"The first round of DRI proved to be a tremendous success, and by continuing to engage local communities and create new opportunities for business growth, downtowns across New York will thrive for decades," Governor Cuomo said. "Revitalizing Watkins Glen will not only boost the local economy and foster job growth, it will provide an improved quality of life for the families who call this community home. I congratulate the Southern Tier on another DRI award and look forward to witnessing this region soar for generations to come."

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Watkins Glen was selected as the second-round DRI winner after its proposal for downtown revitalization, together with the proposals from other participant communities from the Southern Tier region, went through a competitive process, which included the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council's weighing of these eight criteria before recommending Watkins Glen as its nominee for winner:

  • The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
  • The municipality, or the downtown's catchment area, should be of sufficient size to support a vibrant, year-round downtown;
  • 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.

Watkins Glen's second-round DRI win entitles it to receive $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhoods and generate new opportunities for long-term growth. Watkins Glen now joins the City of Elmira which was the Southern Tier region's winner in the first DRI round.

"Revitalizing Watkins Glen will not only boost the local economy and foster job growth, it will provide an improved quality of life for the families who call this community home."

Governor Cuomo

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, "Watkins Glen is one of New York's premier tourism, recreational and sporting destinations, and today's announcement will provide the means to enhance the village's downtown spaces to keep pace with its internationally acclaimed attractions. Redevelopment of the main streets and a more walkable, accessible central business district will encourage the growth of Watkin Glen's small business and entrepreneurial community and make downtown the hub of future growth throughout the region."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Watkins Glen winning effort represents a focused, community-based approach that leverages the village's unique assets and represents smart public-private investments. Their plan will work to create an engaging, sustainable downtown close to the shores of the beautiful Seneca Lake waterfront."

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding will help invigorate Watkins Glen's downtown, offering opportunities for job creation and economic growth, while also making the area more livable to keep existing residents and attract new ones. The Department of State will continue to work closely with communities across New York State to help develop downtown communities."

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The Governor's successful DRI program is helping communities across the state transform their downtowns into vibrant and livable urban centers where New Yorkers want to work, live and raise families. With this new round of awards, ten more communities will have access to valuable state resources and expertise to embark on the path towards long-term growth and prosperity. We look forward to working with the Village of Watkins Glen as it creates its own unique blueprint for a strong, sustainable future. 

Senator Tom O'Mara said, "It's one of the most exciting and successful weekends of the year with NASCAR's return to Watkins Glen International, and the Village of Watkins Glen is taking an early checkered flag as the recipient of the second-round DRI award in the Southern Tier. We are grateful for these ongoing, significant state investments to build stronger foundations for the future of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions."

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said, "This significant state investment will help the Village and all of Schuyler County move forward, revitalize the downtown for businesses, visitors and residents alike, and keep fueling an ongoing revitalization across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. We continue to appreciate the commitment and leadership of Governor Cuomo and his administration, our regional economic development councils, and so many local leaders for taking these critical steps to spark more and more economic and community development across the region."

Mayor of Watkins Glen Sam Schimizzi said, "Thanks to the Governor's historic commitment to Watkins Glen, I look forward to a bustling downtown, new jobs for our residents, and more visitors to our region, as we work together to build a stronger community for our future generations. This $10 million award will provide the jump-start our downtown needs to reinvigorate and grow, and I thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing the potential of our village and bringing our DRI plan to life."

Governor Cuomo Announces Village of Watkins Glen as $10 Million Southern Tier Region Winner of Second-Round Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Watkins Glen

The area selected for revitalization in the Village of Watkins Glen is comprised of the walkable, compact traditional downtown as well as surrounding residential and commercial neighborhoods. There are over 150 businesses as well as a number of residential properties and cultural institutions within the two-square mile area.  Benefitting from local amenities that include the Seneca Lake waterfront, parks, wine trails, a growing art scene, and the internationally-recognized Watkins Glen International race, downtown Watkins Glen is ripe for investment.  The community will use the Downtown Revitalization Initiative to leverage progressive development codes and recent investments in the Watkins Glen International Race Track to create a sustainable environment for a year-round innovative and prosperous economy.

Watkins Glen 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 Watkins Glen 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 Watkins Glen Strategic Investment Plan, as well as the plans developed by the other nine DRI winners, 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 DRI's second round will be complete in early 2018.  

Today's announcement also complements "Southern Tier Soaring," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $3.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan - attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. 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 Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest.

For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, go to:

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office