February 14, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Villages of Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton as Central New York Winners of First Round of NY Forward Program

Governor Hochul Announces Villages of Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton as Central New York Winners of First Round of NY Forward Program

Village of Phoenix to Receive $4.5 Million; Villages of Moravia and Hamilton to Receive $2.25 Million Each

New $100 Million NY Forward Program Builds on Momentum of the Successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative to Support a More Equitable Downtown Recovery for New York's Smaller and Rural Communities

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the Village of Phoenix will receive $4.5 million, and the Villages of Moravia and Hamilton will each receive $2.25 million in funding as the Central New York region winners of the first round of NY Forward. Building on the momentum of the State's successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, 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. As part of NY Forward Round One, two to three awards will be made to smaller communities in each of the state's ten economic development regions to support development and implementation of a revitalization plan for their downtowns.

"New York's downtowns are the heart and soul of our communities and regions, and NY Forward will ensure that Phoenix, Moravia, and Hamilton have the resources they need to thrive and flourish," Governor Hochul said. "This funding will revitalize these villages back to what the bustling areas they once were by making communities more walkable, creating new housing opportunities, and attracting businesses."

NY Forward is a central component of the State's economic development efforts, working together with DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of New York's downtowns. NY Forward serves smaller communities with historic character that distinguishes them from the larger, more urban central business districts typically funded through DRI. NY Forward communities are walkable, less dense areas that serve the immediate local community, and are more local in nature - focusing on the immediately surrounding residential or rural agricultural centric development.

Like DRI, each NY Forward community will develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown through a slate of readily implementable projects. The Department of State will provide enhanced technical assistance to better support smaller communities that may have less capacity as part of the NY Forward program and fund projects appropriately scaled to the size of each community. Projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that elevate specific cultural, historical qualities that enhance the feeling of small-town charm.

The Village of Phoenix is a canal community rich with 19th century history and character centered around Lock 1 of the Oswego Canal on the Oswego River. Phoenix's Canal Waterfront District will be the focus of NY Forward funds. Phoenix seeks to achieve its vision for revitalization by embracing its canal history and the pursuit of continued economic development initiatives, along with a commitment to compatible building and open space design. The Village aims to enhance the economic, residential and recreational opportunities available in the Canal Waterfront District and throughout the Village by reinvesting in the buildings and recreating the thriving canal community that once existed along the Oswego Canal at Lock 1. These new and expanded businesses, affordable housing stock and waterfront setting will attract people from around the country to the Village's distinctive canal-centered environment.

Moravia, rich in history and small-town character, aims to create a thriving downtown that supports the community and promotes sustainable growth while protecting its natural resources and ensuring the health and safety of its citizens. The village sits in a valley, surrounded by vast stretches of farmland and forests and is located a short distance from the southern end of Owasco Lake. Strategically located between three medium-sized urban centers, Moravia's downtown serves as the center of business and social activity for not only the Village, but also several nearby rural towns. Moravia envisions becoming the sole provider of key services to southern Cayuga County and seeks to enhance opportunities for business, cultural and recreational growth.

Hamilton is a compact, walkable village with the character of a small urban center surrounded by working rural landscapes. Hamilton's historic downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its many well-preserved examples of 1890s architecture. Its commercial district is small, but packed with unique locally owned businesses, as well as the Hamilton Farmers' Market on the Village Green every May to October, which attracts over 80 vendors from all over Madison and Chenango Counties. Hamilton's NY Forward area includes the village limits of Hamilton, with the majority of projects falling within the historic downtown center area. As the commercial center for thousands of rural residents of Central New York and the home of the student population of Colgate University, Hamilton seeks to encourage students to stay post-graduation, attract new young professionals and families and allow existing residents to age in place. Hamilton aims to expand housing opportunities, create civic spaces, and improve business development, arts, culture and recreation.

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "We know that when we invest in our communities, they flourish, and that's exactly what our new program, NY Forward, does for our smaller, more rural communities. The critical investments provided through this program will help the Villages of Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton vastly improve their downtown neighborhoods while staying true to the small-town charm and feel that makes them so distinct. I look forward to seeing the progress of these communities in the future."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "The NY Forward initiative was created to support the revitalization of proud rural communities throughout New York State. Thanks to these awards, the Villages of Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton are on the path of an even bright future for their downtowns, accelerating their vibrancy and economic growth for generations to come."

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The NY Forward program empowers smaller municipalities to reach their full potential with targeted investments. The funding announced today will allow the Central New York villages of Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton to develop new housing and economic opportunities, improve infrastructure and foster smart growth that will benefit the entire region."

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, "Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton truly represent all that is good about the Central New York region's smaller communities and everything that they have to offer. Many thanks to Governor Hochul for recognizing the need to help fuel the revitalization of these beautiful communities, accelerating their economic opportunities for years to come."

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, "I applaud Governor Hochul for strategically investing in the Village of Phoenix, a community that has a strong sense of place and deep connection to the Oswego Canal, and one which now has even brighter future thanks to the NY Forward Program. New York's canals are an economic engine for upstate New York, and many canalside communities such as Phoenix have flourished for generations with their connection to these historic waterways. Incorporated in 1848, 20 years after the opening of the Oswego Canal, this new influx of funding will build upon Phoenix's proud history and provide the village with a renaissance for the next generation of residents and visitors."

Assemblymember Jeff Gallahan said, "Moravia is the gateway to Cayuga County, and it is fitting that they've been awarded as one of the first recipients of NY Forward in our region. This is a recognition of the hard work and vision of the local leadership team that worked aggressively to secure these funds to help kick start a brighter, more prosperous future."

Assemblymember Joe Angelino said, "I am thrilled the state has awarded Hamilton with NY Forward funding. Rural communities, like Hamilton, are the lifeblood of New York, and every single one deserves the same recognition from the government as larger cities. I am glad to see that the Governor agrees."

Mayor of Phoenix Caleb Sweet said, "The Village of Phoenix is ripe with potential and ready to finish its transformation into a vibrant canal community. Thanks to Governor Hochul and the innovative NY Forward program, we can now make our plans a reality. We look forward to creating a strategic plan that will attract new businesses, expand housing opportunities, increase employment rates and enhance tourism and recreational opportunities in the Village."

Mayor of Hamilton RuthAnn Loveless said, "This NY Forward award will be truly transformative for the Village of Hamilton. Providing more affordable housing, economic opportunities, accessible civic spaces, and infrastructure improvements will make Hamilton a more accessible and equitable community for all who come here. We are thankful to Governor Hochul for her ongoing commitment to downtown revitalization and for making sure that all communities have access to these important funds.

Mayor of Moravia Gary Mulvaney said, "The Village of Moravia is a close-knit community with a wealth of culture, history and pride. With sound planning principles and a transformative vision, our Village is poised to expand our offerings and become a tourism and social destination for the entire state. This NY Forward funding will help us to achieve our goals, and I thank Governor Hochul for her innovative approach to revitalizing downtowns in smaller communities like ours."

State Senator John W. Mannion said, "I supported the NY Forward Program so we can empower downtown revitalizations for our smaller communities with historic charm and character. I'm pleased to see these funds coming to Central New York to support an improved quality of life for residents and visitors, more economic activity, and community development that preserves the cultural heritage of our rural communities."

State Senator Joseph Griffo said, “As a former mayor, I recognize the challenges that local governments face across the state. This funding will enhance and strengthen the Hamilton community and help to position it for an even brighter and promising future.“

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 the criteria below before recommending these communities as 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;
  • 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 Strategic Investment Plan;
  • The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of NY Forward funds; and
  • The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.

Phoenix, Moravia and Hamilton will now begin the process of developing Strategic Investment Plans to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead these efforts, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community's vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Albany: (518) 474-8418
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