State to Work With Residents, Community Leaders and Public Officials to Revitalize Massena's Downtown
Downtown Revitalization Investments are Crucial Part of the State's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Massena will receive $10 million in funding as one of the North Country region winners of the fifth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
"Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a critical tool to help businesses and communities in every corner of the state not only recover from the pandemic, but thrive in the long-term," Governor Hochul said. "Through the creation of cultural spaces, new business developments and better utilized space along the waterfront, this funding will enhance Massena for both residents and visitors alike and help attract even more people to the North Country."
Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin said, "Massena residents will now join the residents of the many downtowns across New York who have seen their communities revitalized by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. I cannot how wait to see how Massena uses this award to boost their economy and ensure an equitable recovery from COVID-19."
Led by the Department of State, the DRI serves as a cornerstone of the State's economic development policy by transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract redevelopment, businesses, jobs, and economic and housing diversity. In this round, Governor Hochul doubled funding from $100 million to $200 million and allowed each Regional Economic Development Council to decide whether to nominate two $10 million awardees or one $20 million awardee for transformative and catalytic downtown redevelopment projects. Like past DRI rounds, each selected community will develop a strategic plan through a bottom-up, community-based planning process that articulates a vision for the revitalization of its downtown and identifies a list of signature projects that have the potential to transform the downtown and leverage further private and public investments. DRI funds will then be awarded for selected projects that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and realize the community's vision for the downtown. Through the DRI, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will provide technical support to the awardees to assist them with including carbon neutral principles in support of the state's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050.
Massena is currently transforming into a greener, more vibrant, and more connected community. The village has the goal of revitalizing their historically intact, compact, dense downtown to make it more walkable, utilized, and functional, so that it can serve as a true community center for the village and the region. With a 19.6% poverty rate, Massena has worked hard in their revitalization efforts, bringing in approximately $20 million in public and private investments in the downtown area in the past 10 years. To further their goal, the village aims to create arts and culture spaces, increase mixed-use space, support workforce and new business development, and better utilize space along the waterfront.
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Massena as one of the nominees:
- 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, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- 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;
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.
Massena now joins Plattsburgh, Watertown, Saranac Lake and Potsdam, which were the North Country Region's winners in the first four DRI rounds, respectively.
Massena 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 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 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 fifth round will be complete in 2022.
Executive Deputy Secretary of State Brendan C. Hughes said, "Vibrant downtowns are crucial for communities across New York, and that's why the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a key economic development program. This $10 million award for Massena will help transform the village by leveraging recent improvements and private investments to create more opportunities for residents, businesses and visitors to the North Country."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, "The Village of Massena's efforts to revive and modernize it's downtown complement the goals at the heart of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Coupled with private investments, this funding will support projects that generate sustainable economic growth."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The flexibility of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative allows the program to benefit every region of the state, from the North Country all the way down to NYC. The common denominator is that all New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to live in economically healthy communities with access to employment, services and quality affordable housing. The awards announced today for Massena will generate additional tourism activity, attract new businesses, improve infrastructure and expand housing options. Congratulations to the entire community."
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "NYSERDA is pleased to support Massena's revitalization efforts through technical assistance as they plan for a cleaner greener downtown. North Country residents will benefit from this holistic strategic planning with increased work and recreation opportunities for this under resourced area while supporting the state's goal to ensure disadvantaged communities benefit from clean energy investments."
Senator Joseph Griffo said, "As a former mayor, I know firsthand the challenges that local governments face across the state. Massena had a creative and viable plan that enabled them to successfully obtain funding for their downtown. These projects will help position the village for a promising future."
Assemblymember Mark Walczyk, "This is a tremendous day and an incredible win for Massena. Officials have already made significant strides to improve downtown. Now, this DRI award compliments the hard work done thus far and will continue to help downtown Massena grow and prosper for years to come. Massena won today."
Massena Mayor Greg Paquin said, "We are so excited that Massena has been selected as a winner of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. With this $10 million investment, we will be able to transform our quaint downtown into a more vibrant, walkable community that will benefit our residents and visitors. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for this award, and I look forward to working with the many stakeholders in our village to develop a list of projects to revitalize Massena."
North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Dr. Ty Stone, Jefferson Community College President, and James McKenna, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO, said, "The Council has recognized Massena's progress in attracting public and private investment to transform its downtown area into a regional and community hub. This DRI award will take that progress even further, supporting the development of dynamic spaces where people can work, enjoy the arts and appreciate the village waterfront."
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative launched 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. Led by the Department of State, the initiative represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation, bringing with it an interagency team of state experts to support local government capacity in realizing their community's vision.
In the first four years of the program, the state committed $400 million to invest in downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. The fifth round of the DRI will have an additional $200 million commitment. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Each community is awarded at least $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments.
Downtown redevelopment plays a critical role in the State's nation-leading efforts to support sustainable economic development, reverse climate change, and promote climate justice by creating walkable, bikeable and transit-accessible communities that significantly reduce automobile use and greenhouse gas emissions. The DRI also supports the State's Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly NY initiative by creating more opportunities for outside recreation and exercise; offering safe, accessible public spaces for social interaction, which improves mental health; and expanding access to fresh, nutritious food, particularly in underserved communities.
The initiative is headed by New York State Department of State. Communities receive support from private sector experts and a team of state agency staff led by the Department of State in close partnership with Empire State Development, and state Homes and Community Renewal.