Downtown Revitalization Investments are a Critical Part of the State's Comprehensive Economic Development and Community Growth Strategy
State to Work with Residents, Community Leaders and Public Officials to Revitalize Homer's Downtown
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Village of Homer will receive $10 million in funding as the Central New York winner of the sixth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. For DRI Round 6, each of the state's 10 economic development regions are being awarded $10 million, to make for a total state commitment of $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
"Our downtowns play a crucial role in our local economies, and we are working overtime to revitalize them across New York State," Governor Hochul said. "This $10 million investment into the Village of Homer will help uplift the community for generations to come and rebuild the livelihood and regional economy of Central New York."
The DRI serves as a component 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 businesses, jobs and economic and housing diversity. 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 identies a list of signature projects that have transformative potential and leverage further private and public investments. The Department of State will then award DRI funds to selected projects with the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and realize the community's vision.
Homer is quintessential Americana, with a broad Main Street that is lined by majestic trees and historic mansions that give way to a historic Village Green. Homer's Center for the Arts has become a regional performing arts destination, buildings have been redeveloped with unique residential living units and new investment by private developers is driving momentum forward. The Village of Homer has identified a well-defined, walkable 270-acre section of the Village as its DRI investment area. This area includes the entirety of both the Old Homer National Register Historic District and the zoned Central Business District, including the Village Green, and encompasses a mix of residential, commercial, civic and religious structures. This area is the core of the Village, includes the primary gateways into the downtown area and provides great investment potential.
Homer is seeking to leverage its historic buildings, cultural attractions, and the riverfront to create a downtown for the 21st century. To accomplish that goal, the Village has engaged its citizenry, non-profit organizations and the development community to establish a vision for the future that will reactivate the waterfront, restore historic buildings, expand on the village's cultural assets, create new job opportunities, increase sustainability, reimagine public spaces and attract new residents to call this central New York jewel, home.
The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all the criteria below before recommending Homer as the nominee:
- Downtown is compact, with well-dened boundaries;
- Downtown can capitalize on prior, or catalyze future private and public investment;
- Recent or impending job growth within, or close to, the downtown that can attract workers, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
- Downtown is an attractive and livable community for diverse populations;
- Municipality already embraces, or has the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
- Municipality conducted open and robust community engagement resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives;
- Municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
- Municipality has identied transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.
Homer has been awarded $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth following the local planning process. Homer joins the cities of Oswego, Cortland, Auburn, Fulton, Oneida and Syracuse, which were Central New York's winners in the first five DRI rounds.
Homer will 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 eort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each 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 sixth round will be complete in 2023.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "The Village of Homer is a jewel of Central New York with its historic buildings, cultural attractions and scenic landscape. This Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding will allow Homer to reactivate its waterfront and create a downtown for the 21st Century, making this historic village an ideal destination for visitors from all across the region and state."
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Homer's targeted, forward-thinking plan takes full advantage of this charming village's historic past and its exciting future. This DRI funding will help further enhance the community's bold vision, which will drive thoughtful economic development efforts along the beautiful waterfront and draw visitors to Homer for years to come."
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has had a transformative impact on communities across the state by bringing New Yorkers and businesses back to our downtowns, creating jobs, expanding affordable housing opportunities, and building more equitable neighborhoods. Congratulations to Homer for this achievement that will restore the village's historic downtown and riverfront and improve quality of life for current and future residents."
Central New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Randy Wolken, President & CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York and Le Moyne College President Linda M. LeMura said, "We are incredibly pleased to see the Village of Homer named as the latest DRI recipient for the Central New York region. This beautiful community stands ready to get to work on its focused, strategic plan that is aimed at attracting investment and reenergizing and redeveloping the heart and soul of the village's historic business district."
Assemblymember Jeff Gallahan said, "Homer is well deserving of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and $10 million funding. This is an exciting investment in the future of upstate New York. These funds will support critical infrastructure improvements that are vital to attract and retain job-creating businesses. Working together, we can continue to improve our State and deliver critical support for our local communities."
Village of Homer Mayor Hal McCabe said, "On behalf of The Village of Homer, I want to express how deeply we appreciate the decision to award the Downtown Revitalization Initiative for Central NY to Homer. This funding will ensure our beautiful, friendly, historic village remains prosperous and accessible for future generations. Some of the region's most important historic structures will be preserved thanks to these monies, as well as creating new business and economic development opportunities for our current residents. As we prepare as a region for the arrival of Micron, the DRI will also aid local projects which will position Homer as one of the premier communities the anticipated new employees and their families will call home. I cannot thank Governor Hochul and Secretary of State Rodriguez enough for this honor."
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. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative "plan-then-act" strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State's bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.
In the first five years of the program, the state committed $600 million investing in 59 downtowns ripe for revitalization and that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. 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 $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.
More information on the DRI is available here.