Up to $10 Million Recommended to Support Economic and Community Development in Alfred, Fredonia, Lancaster and Tonawanda
Projects Align with Regional Strategy to Accelerate Smart Growth in the Buffalo Niagara Region
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced four Western New York communities have been selected to receive Smart Growth Community Funds. The Village of Alfred, Village of Fredonia, Village of Lancaster and City of Tonawanda will each be awarded a portion of $10 million in funding from the Buffalo Billion II initiative to support projects that utilize existing infrastructure to support placemaking, walkable communities and sustainable development.
“Western New York is thriving as it continues to embrace downtown redevelopment that drives local economies across the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through the Smart Growth Community Fund, we are encouraging the growth of new businesses, housing, and greenspace that will help attract young workers and further fuel the area’s transformation.”
“We’re transforming upstate New York with a record amount of funding and creating new jobs and opportunities for residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who delivered today’s announcement. “As a native Western New Yorker, I know what it was like to see factories close and jobs disappear, but that is now a reality of the past. As part of the Smart Growth Community Fund, we’re investing in local projects in communities across the region to revitalize downtowns and pursue smart growth. The progress and commitment in Western New York is evident, and the transformation is only beginning.”
As investments in communities across Western New York continue to bolster the region’s local economics, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council is embracing smart growth and downtown redevelopment as core economic goals in its Strategy for Prosperity. Businesses are increasingly locating in or near vibrant, walkable downtowns built on the principles of smart growth where the millennial workforce desires to live, work, and raise a family. Investments in existing downtowns have also been found to reduce local infrastructure and municipal service costs, helping to ease fiscal difficulties.
As part of the 2018 Downtown Revitalization Initiative application process, communities in Western New York are eligible for funding through the Smart Growth Community Fund. After reviewing each of the municipalities’ DRI applications, the WNYREDC made recommendations for Alfred, Fredonia, Lancaster and Tonawanda to receive up to $2.5 million each for projects included in their applications. Following approval of these nominations, Empire State Development staff visited each of the four recommended communities to discuss their proposed project list and to better understand the locations and readiness of each project. The findings were then presented at the WNYREDC meeting in August and received approval from the committee to proceed with the awards.
Recipients of the Western New York Smart Growth Community Fund are included with funding recommended by the Western New York REDC below:
Village of Alfred
Recommended Award: Up to $2.5 million; Projects include a mixture of historic restoration, business and innovation investments, placemaking, and smart growth, and could include:
· A New York Main Streets program that would target terra cotta roof preservation, including incentives for incorporating additional terra cotta elements into building upgrades and improving ADA accessibility for Main Street buildings;
· Providing funding that would create an “Advanced Ceramic Manufacturing Center” in the Village; and
· Pedestrian improvements along Route 244 that would improve the safety and aesthetic appearance of the main corridor that connects with Town and Village.
Village of Fredonia
Recommended Award: Up to $2.5 million; Projects would enhance the Village’s historic downtown and help to create a strong sense of place for its residents, college students, and visitors, and could include:
· Streetscape improvements along Water and Temple Streets surrounding Barker Commons that would improve safety, attractiveness, and connectivity to downtown; and
· 1891 Opera House Improvements that would help to complete interior and exterior projects and promote the Opera House as a regional and cultural attraction.
Village of Lancaster
Recommended Award: Up to $2.5 million; Projects would facilitate a new village center development, and could include:
· Restoration of the historic street grid, extending West Main Street through to Pleasant Avenue, including relocation of necessary infrastructure; and
· Creation of a new pedestrian-friendly and walkable extension of the village downtown, facilitating new opportunities for mixed-use development and an ADA-compliant thoroughfare.
City of Tonawanda
Recommended Award: Up to $2.5 million; Projects are focused on improving connections with its waterfronts and enhancing recreation opportunities for its residents and visitors, and could include:
· Design and implementation of the City’s plan for an expanded greenspace and connection with Ellicott Creek and the Erie Canal along the now-closed portion of Young Street; and
· Construction of additional waterfront trails, a pavilion, and other recreational amenities.
In 2017, grants of up to $2.5 million each through the Smart Growth Community Fund were awarded to the City of Dunkirk, City of Lackawanna, City of North Tonawanda, and Village of Gowanda.
Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has made New York a Smart Growth state by initiating several laws, policies and programs that promote Smart Growth and downtown redevelopment. Initiatives include, the Better Buffalo Fund; the Upstate Revitalization Initiative; an enhanced historic preservation tax credit; land banks legislation; zombie property reforms; brownfield redevelopment reforms; Complete Streets law and funding; Community Risk & Resiliency Act; Age Friendly/Health Across All Policies; Clean Energy Communities; Climate-Smart Communities grants; and craft beverage reforms.
The Smart Growth Community Fund follows three rounds of the Better Buffalo Fund, which provided funding from the Buffalo Billion for the Buffalo Main Streets Initiative and Transit-Oriented Development, expanding opportunities to communities throughout the five-county region of Western New York. Over the past three years, the Better Buffalo Fund has provided over $28 million in support for projects that create compact, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods and ensure that all residents have access to the city’s emerging job centers in the area.
Investments in historic preservation tax credits since the program was expanded under the Governor’s direction in 2013 have also resulted in more than $3.6 billion in investments from both the state and federal tax credit. Over two-thirds of those investments have been made in historic downtowns and commercial centers in Upstate New York. In Western New York alone, 120 completed projects have attracted over $727 million in private investment, and an additional 144 projects with a minimum investment of $444.9 million are in planning stages. These investments represent the largest number of projects in any region of the state and the largest dollar investment of any upstate region.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “This additional Buffalo Billion II funding will allow these Western NY communities to invest in smart growth projects leading to walkable, vibrant downtowns that will attract and ensure growth and investment for the long-term.”
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of SolEpoxy Inc., Jeff Belt said, “Decades of sprawl has resulted in disinvest in our downtowns; but this region is rallying around a shared vision of smart growth that will benefit our communities. The awardees today are ready for the opportunity to transform their downtowns into vibrant places ripe for economic activity.”
Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and President of the State University of New York at Fredonia, Dr. Virginia Horvath said, “The REDC congratulates the recipients of these awards for investing in their downtowns and working toward smart growth improvements. Throughout the region we are seeing the value in reinvesting in our cities, towns, and villages in ways that will strengthen existing assets, foster mixed-use development, increase access to greenspace and accelerate economic growth.”
Senator Catherine M. Young said, “Revitalizing our downtowns is a winning economic development strategy that drives job growth, enriches quality of life and preserves the history and character of our communities. The four Smart Growth awardees announced today deserve to be commended for pursuing those goals through thoughtful, creative proposals that were developed in collaboration with many stakeholders and designed to complement initiatives already underway. My congratulations go out to all the winners on this exciting news, especially the residents of Alfred and Fredonia in my district, and my thanks go out to Governor Cuomo for his support and commitment to the future of Western New York.”
Senator Patrick Gallivan said, “New York’s investment in the restoration of Lancaster’s historic village will help attract new development to Main Street and bring more activity to the downtown area. The creation of a more pedestrian-friendly village center is welcome news for current residents and will help attract visitors to the community.”
Senator Christopher Jacobs said, “I have been a strong supporter of the City of Tonawanda’s efforts to enhance community access and improve their downtown corridor and I am thrilled that they will be receiving this funding from the Western New York Smart Growth Community Fund. The City of Tonawanda has tremendous waterfront assets and I applaud Mayor Rick Davis and city leaders for capitalizing on them.”
Assembly Member Andy Goodell said, “It is very exciting that Fredonia will receive up to $2.5 million to enhance its historic downtown by making streetscape improvements around Barker Commons and needed renovations and improvements to the 1891 Opera House. These projects build on the unique and beautiful area around Barker’s Commons, help foster a stronger sense of community identity, and will benefit residents and visitors for many years into the future.”
Assembly Member Monica Wallace said, “For decades, Downtown Lancaster was in need of resources to restore and redevelop its central business district. With this funding, Downtown Lancaster will move closer to reaching its full potential and will attract new businesses and families to this historic community. I was proud to support Lancaster's application for Smart Community Growth funding, and I'm thrilled that the Governor, Lieutenant governor, and the Regional Economic Development Council agree and see the potential in Lancaster as a social and business destination.”
Allegany County Chair of the Board of Legislators Curtis Crandall said, “I’d like to congratulate the Village of Alfred. This village is key to economic growth in Allegany County with two higher education institutions within it, Alfred state college and Alfred university. This award village will put a special shine on an invaluable community. Again congratulations and thank you to Governor Cuomo and the WNY REDC.”
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello said, “As someone who grew up in Fredonia, I know what a great community it is, filled with wonderful people. This Smart Growth Community award will allow Fredonia to enhance the downtown area. This will help boost economic activity and the quality of life in a village with a history of vibrancy.”
City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis said, “We are excited that the Governor has chosen the City of Tonawanda for a $2.5 Million Smart Growth Grant. Over the last 4 years we have worked very hard reaching out to our residents and planning for the future of the City of Tonawanda. This money will help reshape the identity of our downtown decades after Urban Renewal decimated it. We as a city look forward to changing the narrative of our downtown.”
Village of Alfred Mayor Becky Prophet said, "The Village of Alfred is thrilled to receive this grant. We thank Governor Cuomo and want to especially recognize Deputy Mayor Peter McClain for his hard work in moving our downtown revitalization forward."
Village of Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis said, “I am very grateful to Governor Cuomo and his continued support for the Village of Fredonia. The WNY Smart Growth Community Fund award we received today will give us the opportunity to revitalize our community through economic development while we improve walkability, preserve our wonderful architecture and reclaim our historic buildings.”
Village of Lancaster Mayor William C. Schroeder said, “This award is the culmination of the beliefs and efforts of our DRI team. We are grateful to NYS for this opportunity to advance our Village into such an exciting period.”
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