State Agencies to Collaborate with Regional Economic Development Council to Revitalize Downtown, Modernize Infrastructure and Boost Local Economy
Supports “Central NY Rising,” the Regions Strategic Plan to Grow Regional Economies and Create New Opportunities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the winning projects selected for the City of Oswego in Central New York as part of the state’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI aims to transform local neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family. Working together with state agencies and the Regional Economic Development Council, the City of Oswego has built a strategic investment plan that identifies catalytic downtown projects consistent with the initiative’s goals.
"This funding is more than an investment in Oswego – it’s an investment in the future of the entire region," Governor Cuomo said. "These investments will help make this downtown an economic engine that will support local businesses, foster growth, and have ripple effects that will keep Central New York rising for decades to come."
"The projects that will move forward as part of Oswego’s DRI plan build on the city’s existing strengths like the Children’s Museum, Midtown Plaza, the historic Cahill Building and its wonderful waterfront to create new residential, retail and tourism opportunities,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chair of the statewide REDCs, during today’s announcement. “Downtowns are epicenters of economic activity that can drive development and growth across entire regions, and Oswego is positioned to be that catalyst for the $500 million Central NY Rising Upstate Revitalization Initiative vision.”
The 12 winning projects are:
· Complete Streets Streetscape Make-over on West Bridge Street: Transform an uninviting section of West Bridge Street at a critical downtown intersection into a pedestrian- and bike-friendly streetscape through Complete Streets streetscape features such as sidewalks that are ADA-compliant; cross-walks and sidewalk bump-outs; street striping; and green infrastructure. This project anchors and supports an important cluster of surrounding DRI projects, and provides a safe, attractive and appealing connection between upper downtown and the waterfront area. This project builds on two other investments from the Governor—a recent $500,000 grant from NYS DOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) to make sidewalks ADA-compliant along this corridor; and another previous DOT grant for complete streets improvements along another section of the Rt. 104 corridor.
- West First Street Multi-Building Redevelopment: Create a multi-building, mixed-use commercial and residential project to replace existing buildings and a vacant lot on West First Street. Up to 40 new housing units will be created downtown, which will generate more 24/7 downtown activity, improve visual aesthetics and support nearby businesses. A collaborative multi-owner partnership was created to develop these buildings as one unified project.
- Harbor View Square Mixed-Use Development: Transform an underutilized industrial brownfield site on the waterfront in downtown Oswego into a mixed-use residential and commercial development that will provide 75 units of new housing and 8,000 sf of ground floor retail and commercial space along the West First Street corridor. The new development will provide much-needed housing options to the downtown and will activate the blocks between the heart of downtown and Lake Ontario, better connecting downtown to the lakefront a creating a more vibrant pedestrian environment.
- Transform the Aging Midtown Plaza: Create an attractive, mixed-use gateway development on the east side of the Oswego River with 45,000sf of commercial space and 95 housing units. The existing structures on the site, which have long been an eyesore for the downtown, will be demolished and a new attractive anchor development will take their place as an anchor and catalyst for additional investment and growth on the east side of the Oswego River.
- Restore the Historic Buckhout-Jones Building: Stabilize and restore the façade of the historic Buckhout-Jones building located in the center of downtown. The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, houses the Children’s Museum of Oswego, and is a centerpiece in downtown Oswego. Renovations will improve the appearance of the building and ensure that it continues to exist intact into the future.
- Transform the Historic Cahill Building into Upscale Housing Along the River: Provide riverfront dining, build six housing units in a historic building and build six new townhomes on the same site to create additional housing choices. The Cahill building is the oldest structure in Oswego, serving as a strong symbol of both the City’s past and its new future with the DRI funds. It was recently saved from the wrecking ball and stabilized by a local developer to make the project possible.
- Create a Pocket Park on Market Street: Create a pocket park on city property in a key central downtown location – adjacent to a cluster of DRI projects surrounding the site. Design a flexible, creative small public space for community gatherings and public events space, which will provide a much-needed connection between W. First Street to Water Street.
- Create an Indoor Water Park as a New Downtown Destination: Construct the new indoor Lake Ontario Water Park to attract visitors and create a four-season family destination downtown, linked to an existing hotel and event/conference center near the waterfront. The facility will build on existing anchor developments and attractions in the downtown to strengthen the appeal as a family destination.
- Renovate the Children’s Museum of Oswego: Renovate space and install hands-on educational and cultural exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Oswego, located on the ground floor of the historic Buckout-Jones Building. The museum upgrades will enhance the ability of this local attraction to bring visitors to downtown Oswego.
- Complete the Downtown West Gateway Project: Redevelop a single-story structure on the corner of W. First Street and W. Bridge Street into a two-story mixed use building that will activate this key intersection in the core of the downtown. The completely renovated building will provide high quality ground floor retail space and will include a vertical addition to add 12 upper story residential units and a roof-top deck with views of the Oswego River that will be used as outdoor restaurant dining. Parking will be provided for residents in the building’s basement.
- Support Local Business Growth, Building Renovation and Outdoor Programming: Establish a revolving loan for private improvements to commercial interiors; a combined grant/loan fund for façade improvements; matching grants for renovating upper floors for housing; and a matching grant program for outdoor programming in the downtown. This investment will encourage additional investment in existing downtown buildings and support active programming to attract more visitors.
- Improve the River Walk: Construct improvements to the riverfront trail network to provide better connections to the downtown and offer more user amenities. Upgrades will include new fencing, landscaping, lighting, seating, and signage as well as new access points and signage. These improvements will encourage greater use of the trail and increase its ability to attract and retain visitors to the downtown.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Communities across the State are grateful for Governor Cuomo’s focus on investing in local opportunities and sparking true economic growth. By funding downtown revitalization projects, New York State is ensuring that future generations can stay local and remain proud of their home state. I congratulate the Local Planning Committee for its due diligence and hard work in selecting award-worthy projects that will improve the lives of Oswego residents."
NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo’s DRI program was created to recognize and reward the best in local, well-planned growth that anticipates and balances the needs of the current residents with the promise of new mixed-use development. Helping communities like Oswego embark on a path that embraces renewal, fresh employment and housing opportunities, recreational and arts enrichment, and creating a more attractive and livable community guarantees a more vital future for all New Yorkers."
State Senator Patty Ritchie said, “The City of Oswego has tremendous potential for growth and through these projects, we will be able to create much-needed jobs, attract more people to our region and make it a better place to live, work and raise a family. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance of investing in our downtowns, and look forward to seeing how these projects boost the City of Oswego."
Assemblyman Will Barclay said, "I have seen positive changes and energy take hold in Oswego thanks to the leadership of Mayor Billy Barlow and local community leaders. The anchor projects selected today will build on that positive momentum by providing investments in Oswego’s historic downtown and waterfront areas which will improve the local economy and the quality of life for residents. The Governor’s innovative Downtown Revitalization Initiative enabled the city to secure significant public funding to maximize private investment that will benefit generations to come.”
Oswego Mayor William Barlow said, "This investment by Governor Cuomo and New York State will help leverage our natural and existing assets while giving Oswego the opportunity to boost small business, foster pivotal development and beautify our community. This significant investment will begin a new chapter in our community and positions Oswego to better attract millennials and younger working class families to live here and patronize our downtown."
The City of Oswego
With assets that include a scenic waterfront location, compact and walkable downtown, rich cultural history and anchor institutions such as SUNY Oswego, Oswego Health and the Port of Oswego Authority, Oswego is well-positioned for a transformation into a regionally competitive area while maintaining its small town charm. Under the DRI, Oswego will focus on catalytic projects in the downtown that will leverage significant private investment and provide new housing opportunities, mixed-use development, a business incubator, commercial/retail development and community services.
The City of Oswego was selected as the winning DRI community in the Central New York region after the local regional Council weighed seven criteria in selecting the City as its nominee:
1. The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
2. The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizeable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
3. The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.
4. 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.
5. The downtown must contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces.
6. The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, complete streets plans, or transit-oriented development; and
7. Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
Today’s announcement also complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s award-winning strategic plan to generate robust economic growth and community development. This initiative is focused on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. The state has already invested over $3.4 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan, which includes investing in key industries such as agriculture and food production, advanced manufacturing and the burgeoning unmanned aerial systems industry. 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 as a result.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and how to apply for its second round, go to: https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov.