May 20, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces 22 Transformational Projects in Western New York as Part of Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward Programs

Governor Hochul Announces 22 Transformational Projects in Western New York as Part of Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward Programs

Projects Announced in Dunkirk, Wellsville and Lancaster

Project Renderings Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced a total of 22 transformational projects for the Western NY region as part of two economic development programs: the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and NY Forward. Nine projects were announced for Dunkirk, the Round 6 winner of a $10 million DRI award; seven projects were announced for Wellsville, a Round 1 winner of a $4.5 million NY Forward award; and eight projects were announced for Lancaster, also a Round 1 winner of a $4.5 million NY Forward award.

“New York’s downtowns are the heartbeat of our state, and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward programs help us fulfill our commitment to uplifting communities in every region,” Governor Hochul said. “These projects in Western New York will help revitalize our beautiful downtowns and create more opportunities for New Yorkers to build thriving communities for future generations.”

Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI)

The City of Dunkirk was named the Western New York winner of the sixth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative in 2023. The 9 projects selected seek to harness the city’s connection to Lake Erie to attract new investment, activate its waterfront and serve as a conduit for redevelopment of its historic business district.

New investment combined with past investments will create a robust environment for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic downtown buildings and infill development that incorporates mixed-income residential opportunities.

The DRI investments are part of the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the economy and create more opportunities in Western New York. The DRI is led by the Department of State, which provides technical assistance as each participating community develops a Strategic Investment Plan identifying specific projects with a unique vision for the revitalization of the downtown area.

The specific projects to be funded through the DRI support several goals and strategies contained in the community’s Strategic Investment Plan, such as amplifying the city's unique sense of place with a genuine and authentic experience that will be catalytic for future organic growth and will foster development that is inclusive while embracing its strong heritage and ethnic diversity.

Dunkirk joins the communities of Jamestown, Olean, Lockport, Niagara Falls Bridge District, North Tonawanda, Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood and Tonawanda, which were Western New York's winners in the first seven DRI rounds.

The $9.7 million State investment in these projects through the DRI will leverage additional public and private investments as the revitalization process proceeds and builds momentum.

The 9 Dunkirk DRI projects, totaling $9.7 million, include:

The City of Dunkirk will harness its connection with Lake Erie to create a wave of energy to activate its waterfront and downtown area with private investment that enhances business opportunities and activities for residents and visitors. Downtown Dunkirk will be a year-round destination that is welcoming, attractive, livable, walkable and sustainable. Dunkirk will build on its unique diversity, history and natural environment to provide opportunity and a high quality of life for people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.

Renovate the Dunkirk Macaroni Company Building to House Apartments and Medical Offices ($500,000)
Convert an existing four-story building into a mix of uses, including offices and loft-style apartments.

Establish the Downtown Dunkirk Small Project Fund ($473,000)
Set up a fund for projects that revitalize Downtown Dunkirk, through grants for building renovations, business assistance (commercial machinery and equipment), public art and soft costs (architecture and engineering).

Update the Clarion Hotel Building and Grounds ($1,000,000)
Renovate approximately 120 hotel rooms, conference area, dining room, lobby, building exterior, outdoor pavilion and grounds.

Redevelop the Lake Shore National Bank Building to House Retail and Market-Rate Apartments ($900,000)
Convert the former bank building into ground floor retail and four market-rate, loft-style apartments.

Refurbish the Graf Building to House a Workforce Development Training Center ($2,200,000)
Renovate the Graf Building to house a Workforce Development Training Center that would potentially include childcare, offices for program partners, a career counseling center, science labs, new classrooms and computer labs.

Expand the City of Dunkirk Marina through New Docks ($2,000,000)
Replace missing docks with new docks, upgrade marina utilities and install a security system.

Construct Affordable Apartments and a Daycare Facility on Two Sites ($500,000)
Construct new, affordable housing and a daycare facility on two sites, including an estimated 30 apartments and an approximately 6,700 sq. ft. daycare facility on E 4th Street and an estimated 48 apartments on Washington Avenue.

Enhance the Chadwick Bay Marina with Transient Boat Slips and Boater Amenities ($1,000,000)
Provide a new dock with transient slips, improvements to existing docks, boater amenities and public access including a connector to the shoreline trail.

Revive the Historic Adams Building to House Arts and Youth Programming ($1,127,000)
Renovate the historic building into a multi-use event space and lower-level youth center in partnership with Kids at Promise, and two luxury apartments to provide ongoing revenue for programming and building maintenance.

NY Forward

Building on the momentum of the State's successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same "Plan-then-Act" strategy as the DRI to support a more equitable downtown recovery for New York's smaller and rural communities. NY Forward investments are part of the Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the economy and create more opportunities in Western New York.

The 7 Wellsville NY Forward Projects, totaling $4.5 Million, include:

The Village of Wellsville plans to create a contemporary and revitalized downtown that enhances quality of life, promotes health and wellness and boosts tax revenue by supporting business growth. It will foster a vibrant, sustainable, and diverse economy that is active throughout all four-seasons, capitalizing on its ecotourism potential and leveraging its small-town charm, craft food and beverage businesses, unique arts and culture and access to picturesque vistas and outdoor activities. It will prioritize adaptive reuse and façade upgrades, housing and infill development and public infrastructure improvements necessary to creating a dynamic downtown.

Revise the Daily Reporter ($762,000)
Renovate a former printing facility into new commercial space on the 1st floor, and rental units on upper floor.

Develop New Branding and Signage for the Village of Wellsville ($90,000)
Develop a branding and wayfinding plan and new village website.

Establish the Wellsville NYF Small Project Fund ($449,000)
Establish a Small Project Fund to support applicants with building and business improvements.

Transform the Depot into an Event Center & Museum ($1,228,000)
Transform a former train depot into a new event space and railroad themed museum.

Experience Entertainment at the Well ($640,000)
Develop a new dining, entertainment and event space within the former municipal building.

Improve Gateways to the Village of Wellsville ($551,000)
Enhance the pedestrian experience on State Street with safer and more appealing crossings, expanded sidewalks and the addition of decorative fencing and flag mounts on the Madison Street memorial bridge.

Expand Space and Offerings at the Creative Arts Center ($780,000)
Expand art studio offerings by renovating studio spaces, installing a freight elevator, and purchasing a new kiln; renovate space to create new apartments and workspaces for artists; and make upgrades to the building exterior and mechanical systems.

The 6 Lancaster NY Forward Projects, totaling $4.5 Million, include:
The Village of Lancaster plans to create a downtown that is equitable, resilient, and sustainable, with a vibrant village center that retains its historic character and walkability while encouraging and supporting enhanced economic development, health and wellness for residents and visitors, environmentally friendly infrastructure and practices, a new teen center, and affordable housing options.

Expand the Lancaster Village Center with a New Mixed-Use Building at 20 West Main ($881,000)
Construct a new mixed-use building on a vacant parcel of land at 20 West Main Street.

Create a Small Project Fund to Support Critical Building and Business Enhancements ($300,000)
Create a $300,000 small project fund to support up to 75% of the cost of building and business improvements throughout the NY Forward area.

Construct New Senior Housing along Plum Bottom Creek at Brookfield Place ($900,000)
Construct a new senior apartment complex on a vacant parcel of land overlooking Plum Bottom Creek.

Revitalize and Reconnect Lancaster with a New Pocket Park at the Municipal Building ($206,000)
Enhance the underutilized walkway between the public parking lot located behind the Lancaster Municipal Building and Broadway/Central Avenue through construction of a new pocket park, creating a vibrant pedestrian connector and seating area.

Elevate the Opera House and Town Hall into a State-of-the-Art Iconic Building ($1,156,000)
Complete high-impact improvements to the exterior and interior of this historic structure to enhance the visibility and role of the Lancaster Opera House as a regional cultural beacon.

Renovate the Boys & Girls Club and Create a New Teen Center ($1,057,000)
Complete exterior and interior improvements to the Boys & Girls Club of Depew-Lancaster and renovate space to house a new teen center.

Acting New York Secretary of State Brendan C. Hughes said, “Congratulations to all three communities for presenting a well thought out plan to help revitalize your downtowns. Dunkirk’s proximity to Lake Erie provides a perfect opportunity to harness the potential for more waterfront focused activities, promote tourism, growth in housing access, and business expansion. While Wellsville and Lancaster focus on sustainability, equity, housing, multimodal transportation options and infrastructure. The New York Department of State looks forward to helping you achieve success with your revitalization goals.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “DRI funding will encourage Dunkirk’s potential using a comprehensive approach identified through the community’s Strategic Investment Plan process. With the targeted projects announced today, this shoreline city is on the path toward boosting its local economy, transforming its historic business district and activating its Lake Erie waterfront and harbor.”

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The $19 million awarded today will help Dunkirk, Lancaster, and Wellsville better realize their full potential by allowing these communities to invest in new homes, creative attractions, and economic opportunities in their downtown neighborhoods. Importantly, these 22 projects were selected with significant local input to best ensure resources will benefit current and future residents for years to come. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her focus on uplifting Western New York's municipalities with investments that enhance communities and improve lives.”

WNYREDC Co-Chair and Campus Labs Founder Eric Reich said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward are two of New York State’s preeminent programs for downtown renewal. The transformational projects announced today for Dunkirk, Wellsville and Lancaster after a year of strategic planning will strengthen and bring new activity to these vital Western New York communities.”

WNYREDC Co-Chair and Canisius University President Steve Stoute said, “The 24 projects announced today for Dunkirk, Lancaster and Wellsville will invigorate these downtowns and serve as a catalyst for additional investment. The DRI and NY Forward are two of the most effective state programs for catalyzing economic development, invigorating our downtowns and creating more opportunities in Western New York.”

State Senator Patrick Gallivan said, “New York's investment in revitalizing downtown communities will support existing businesses, encourage new development and improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. Lancaster's commitment to these projects will continue the transformation of the downtown area and provide new opportunities for the entire community.”

State Senator Tom O'Mara said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward programs have had an enormously positive impact on communities I represent across the Western New York and Southern Tier regions. These critical state investments have helped our local communities and leaders move forward on projects to bolster local economies, spark economic growth and opportunity within the tourism sector and other small businesses and industries, ease the burden on local property taxpayers, and strengthen the overall quality of life for community residents and families.”

State Senator George Borrello said, “Congratulations to the City of Dunkirk on these latest DRI projects that will be moving the city further down the path of transformation. The redevelopment of many existing buildings into a combination of market-rate and affordable housing, retail and child care facilities will ensure the city has the amenities it needs to spur much-needed workforce development. The hotel and marina improvements are investments in the area’s hospitality and tourism sector that will build on the city’s exciting waterfront redevelopment. My thanks go out to Governor Hochul for her support of our efforts to revitalize this historic city and make it a destination for both visitors and residents for generations to come.”

Assemblymember Joseph Giglio said, “This is great news for the Village of Wellsville and all of Allegany County. This $4.5 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward grant will enable the Village of Wellsville to pursue its vision as a destination for business, industry and tourism. I want to thank Gov. Hochul and New York State for recognizing the need to support communities in Western New York as they reinvent themselves and build a brighter future for our residents.”

Assemblymember Monica Wallace said, “From new stores and restaurants to improved parks and streetscapes, the Village of Lancaster has experienced a renaissance over the past few years due in large part to significant investments by New York State. Our historic village is fast becoming a destination for all Western New Yorkers to live, shop, dine, and enjoy great theater. I thank Governor Hochul for again providing critical resources that will ensure the continued growth and revitalization of the Village of Lancaster for generations to come.”

Wellsville Mayor Randy M. Shayler said, “Thank you to Governor Hochul, the Department of State, and everyone involved in NYForward. Wellsville’s award and the projects selected will positively impact our community for decades to come! NYForward has become the catalyst for our economic growth, beyond its $4.5 Million funding. We have just begun to see its full impact.”

Dunkirk Mayor Kate Wdowiasz said, “The City would like to thank Governor Hochul, for this incredible announcement. The City of Dunkirk was profoundly grateful to be named the Western New York winner of the sixth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. For generations, Dunkirk's waterfront has been a source of pride and potential. Today, with this transformative investment, we will be able to harness the power of Lake Erie to create a vibrant destination that celebrates our unique heritage and diversity.”

Village of Lancaster Mayor Lynne Ruda said, “The NY Forward process has helped focus the needs and desires of our community. The funding that has been allocated to the projects will create transformative change in the Village of Lancaster for generations to come. Thank you to everyone who devoted so much time to this process and to Governor Hochul for recognizing the importance and allocating funding to preserving and enhancing historic villages like our.”

DRI and NY Forward communities developed Strategic Implementation Plans (SIPs), which create a vision for future of their downtown and identify and recommend a slate of complementary, transformative and implementable projects that support that vision. The SIPs are guided by a Local Planning Committee (LPC) comprised of local and regional leaders, stakeholders, and community representatives, with the assistance of an assigned consultant and DOS staff, all of whom conduct extensive community outreach and engagement when determining projects.

About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and NY Forward are cornerstones of the state’s economic development policy. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. NY Forward was created in 2022 to revitalize smaller and rural communities throughout the state so that all communities can benefit from the state’s revitalization efforts, regardless of size, character, needs and challenges. Led by the Department of State—with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority the DRI and NY Forward represent an unprecedented and innovative "plan-then-act" strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation. Both programs are creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns in every region of the state that is enhancing economic development, promoting quality of life, fostering socio-economic development and achieving the state’s bold climate goals.

In the first seven rounds of the DRI, the state has committed $800 million, investing in 81 downtowns ripe for revitalization that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. In the first two rounds of NY Forward, the state has committed $200 million, investing in 43 smaller and rural downtowns.

With the Governor’s commitment this year of another $100 million each for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, the State has now invested a combined total of $1.2 billion in both programs since their inception, serving 124 downtown communities combined.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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