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 Ocials to Revitalize East Harlem
Governor Hochul: "I'm proud to announce here today that East Harlem has won a competition. Congratulations, and received $10 million in funding ... This is part of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative. It'll transform this neighborhood into a transit hub, and this is the gateway to El Barrio, and it's not just the economic activity today, but it's going to drive growth here for generations to come."
Hochul: "All of you in this room will be able to know that you made a difference. And people, generations from now look back at us and say, 'We invested. We let people know they matter. We transformed a community, and we made a difference in people's lives.' That's why we're here. And as I talked about in my State of the State last week, we need a more equitable dream for all. You can't just say the New York dream, which is better than the American dream, I guarantee it."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that East Harlem will receive $10 million in funding as the New York City region winner of the sixth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Each of the state's 10 economic development regions will be awarded $10 million during this sixth round, which will total a $100 million state commitment to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Buenas días! Good to see everybody. Lo siento por ser tarde. And I think you'll understand I have a very good reason why I was a little bit late today. I had to make a phone call to someone that perhaps you didn't know before, a very important Buffalo Bills game a few weeks ago, but I had a chance to talk to Damar and I told him I'm heading up to Harlem. He is doing well. Damar Hamlin, number three, Buffalo Bills in case you're not paying attention, in case you've been asleep for the last month. But I told him that New York City loves him as well, that Harlem loves him as well. And I know that he wants to use the gift of his story as an inspiration. I said, "I have a place I'm bringing you, Damar. Finish the season, get through the Super Bowl, win." Sorry, Giant fans. But ultimately, I'm going to bring him back here and let him speak to young people through inspiration and looking up to role models like him, the power of prayer gave him this platform that he believes. And I said, "You can be a great voice to join with me and letting young people know that through sports or music and culture and dance at places like this, they can have a better outcome." So, I'm going to get him up here. Don't know when, but I did have that conversation with him just a few minutes ago. So, I thought that would be an okay excuse to be late. Are we okay with that one? Okay.
But we are here with extraordinary leaders. Part of me wants to apologize for taking your Assemblymember away, but I gave him the opportunity to be the public servant he has in his DNA. Robert Rodriguez is an individual who has been widely respected around the state now as he travels to cities and rural hamlets and suburbs and places where I want to make sure that they know we believe that every community matters. And sometimes it's just all about showing up and when I cannot be there, my Lieutenant Governor, Antonio Delgado cannot be there, we also have a Secretary of State who travels extensively and believes in this program. Believes in the power of just one check that can give people that sense that they matter, that their state government believes they matter, and that their story and their future can be even stronger and better with support from the state. So, let's give another round of applause to Harlem's own, East Harlem's own, our great Secretary of State.
You also have the most incredible member of Congress representing you. I was still Lieutenant Governor and every single time I saw Adriano Espaillat, the words, "Second Avenue Subway," came out of his mouth. Every single time. Am I right about that? Second Avenue Subway. Is there anything else you care about? Second Avenue Subway. So, I come out of local government, county government, Congress, and I admire you because I would do the same. I would not miss that opportunity to speak so powerfully on behalf of my constituents to say they have lived in a transit desert too long. There are jobs and opportunities that are unlocked if we can just make it easier for people to get around and not have to such a long commute to get to a place where they can lift their families up. So, we are in this together. It's got a big price tag and we're counting on Washington as well, but we're here at the state level and I thank you for going down into that dark manhole. He went underground. And it's like, "Okay, the congressman wants me here." But thank you for your passion and all you do for your district. Let's give another round applause to Congressman, Espaillat.
And you have an Assemblymember, Eddie Gibbs is everywhere. He performs outstanding up in Albany, but he's also really good at parades. We marched in the Three Kings parade, and somehow the Three Kings parade just wasn't moving at the pace Eddie wanted it to. So, Eddie gets out of line, goes out there, okay, let's move this along. Let's move it along. He's like - who doesn't want to listen to Eddie Gibbs? But I do. And he has become a great friend and I thank him for his leadership as well. Your Assemblymember, Eddie Gibbs.
And Borough President is a big job. It's a big job. It's an important job. It is a vast, widely diverse, fascinating borough, and I know you love it with every fiber in your being, Mark Levine. And when you have a project like this that you spearheaded and championed and worked so closely with Uptown Grand Central, Carey King, Diane Collier, you made this happen, what we're going to announce here today. So, thank you for your tenacity in fighting for the people of this borough as well. Let's give a round applause to our Borough President, Mark Levine.
Hope Knight, we're back in the neighborhood and you have been everywhere. Extraordinary. You are the leader, the face of economic development in our state, and I could not be prouder of what you do for all of us in lifting communities up and never forgetting where you came from as well. Let's give a round of applause to CEO of Empire State Development.
Frankie Miranda, you run this magnificent place. Thank you for being at my side as we're doing what we can to lift up voices and people in many positions and we're going to do so much more. And I believe in that. And I thank you for being such a powerful voice - someone who cares deeply through the Hispanic Federation and all you do.
We're not done. We have a lot of people that need their voices lifted up. And so, to be at a place like this, I'm really proud to be here. It's a great space. Julia De Burgos Performance Center. Now, what is her story? She's a champion for women, civil rights, independence. She was a fighter, and I'm proud to be standing in front of a fighter because I believe in fighting. Because I believe in taking on the fights that matter.
So, we are so lucky to be at this place at this time. This place is fascinating. And it's not just because everybody heard of Spanish Harlem from the song, right? None of you were born in 1960 when it was first released. Some of us might have been really little, but I don't know who. But immortalized by Aretha Franklin who talked about the rose in Black and Spanish Harlem. And so, this has captured the imagination of the world. You know, what kind of community is talked about with such passion and vibrancy in a song that everyone knows? And I listened to it again this morning because I knew I was coming up here. And it just gives you that understanding that this is a unique community. It's got special attributes. It's got people so fascinating. And it deserves, you know, not just from the soulful music and the food, but it's more than just the places.
It is la gente. It is la gente, the Barrio, the people of this place that are making a difference. And after the first World War, yes, Puerto Ricans came here, Latin Americans came here. People from the Caribbean came here. People in search of a better life. And they all brought their culture to this melting pot. So, this area is the largest Puerto Rican community outside of San Juan in the world. I mean, it's right here. Okay? So, he traveled to SOMOS every year to meet the Puerto Rican leaders. Like why not just go up to East Harlem? There's more there. But I'll continue to go. But I cherish this opportunity. Think about the restaurants. Ricardo's, the Mexican Street Band, Delicias Mexicanas, and of course Patsy's Pizza. Went to Patsy's with my husband the other night, late at night. Great food.
But, you know, this really just is important to me and when I feel there's communities that have been overlooked, it's kind of like the mother of big family. You kind of gravitate to the ones that feel like they're not getting enough attention, right? That's what this community means to me, and it is time to let this rose bloom. And that's what this is all about. This is how we achieve the New York dream as I speak about leveling that playing field. So, to help that effort, I'm proud to announce here today that East Harlem has won a competition. Congratulations, and received $10 million in funding, $10 million.
Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. This is part of our Downtown Revitalization Initiative. It'll transform this neighborhood into a transit hub, and this is the gateway to El Barrio, and it's not just the economic activity today, but it's going to drive growth here for generations to come, and that's what I'm so excited about.
So, we're going to focus on the lives of the people who live here now. And of course, more people are going to want to live here because it's such a cool place that includes the expansion of the Second Avenue subway to 125th. We're going to do that. We'll also have to work on the Park Avenue Viaduct project. Okay? It's about time. It's about time to do the right thing. You are - repair and replace the portions. Make sure people are safe, reduce the noise because this neighborhood deserves it, and it'll also safer street. We want people outside. We want them walking. We want them to enjoy El Barrio and go to all the bodegas and restaurants.
We need more green and functional public spaces for our kids to just get that fresh air and have a chance to just relax. And even adults. I mean, we saw what the pandemic did. So many people needed to go to parks and just reconnect with nature and feel okay again. That's what we're going to build in this community as well as an economic boost to local businesses.
So, we are going to be righting the wrongs of the past, years of neglect - and transform people and places in an extraordinary way. So, we have already invested through this program into many communities, $600 million, but this is the key to success. It's $10 million for New York City. Sounds like it doesn't even - not a drop in the budget. You put it in a neighborhood led by leaders. Who know this community better than anybody and they say, we need this block fixed? We need this done here. We need this. I'm not going to tell you what to do because I wasn't born and raised here. People from here know and I listen to your voices. That's what the Secretary of State does as well.
He brings that local experience. So, 100 years from now, people look back at us and say, what did you do? What kind of difference did you make in the lives of others? Did you matter by taking up space on this Earth? All of you in this room will be able to know that you made a difference. And people, generations from now look back at us and say, "We invested. We let people know they matter. We transformed a community, and we made a difference in people's lives." That's why we're here. And as I talked about in my State of the State last week, we need a more equitable dream for all. You can't just say the New York dream, which is better than the American dream, I guarantee it.
It's more diverse, it's more inclusive. It's got more power behind it, something we believe in lifting up everyone. But it also means housing that they can afford, because the people who were born and raised here want their kids to know the grandparents. It's that stability of a community that's so important to our cultures here, that connection with family, and if the kids can't afford to live here and they have to move away, that's a tragedy. That's losing the influences of the older generation, which have built on decades and generations of traditions that get passed down. How do they get passed down if someone's living in another state or living somewhere else? I want them to live here. And I say that as a grandma whose grandbaby lives somewhere else. I need to bring her up here. Maybe I'll move her to East Harlem.
But we also have to work on people's sense of safety. They have to feel safe in our communities, and I talked about that, that they have to know that their government leaders are working with community leaders and partners and the people on the ground and the violence disruption programs that give people an alternative. We have to keep investing in them and expanding all we can do to help our communities be safe, not just feel safe, but be safe.
And mental health services. We talked about the largest investment in our state's history. A complete reversal of that time of the deinstitutionalization of the 1970s where the doors were unlocked, people pushed out in the streets and said, "You're on your own. Good luck." That was an epic failure and people are suffering right now, so we have to lift them up as well, and provide supportive housing and services and the mental health beds for people who really need care, and that's what I committed to do as well. So, we'll build more houses, we'll take care of people's mental health, we'll give them a safer environment, and also help people who are just struggling, helping them, with money to retrofit their houses. Energy costs are so high, people are hurting.
So, we understand that profoundly, and it's just a matter of, I believe, that people should be paid more as everything keeps going up. It's not their fault at the cost of diapers and formula, and the kids' sneakers and backpacks, and a bologna sandwich cost more than it ever did. It's nobody's fault, and they shouldn't have to suffer for that. That's why I proposed pegging the minimum wage to the inflation. So, when prices go up, your earning power goes up as well. That's what we're talking about. We talk about fairness and equity. That'll help 900,000 New Yorkers have more money in their pockets, mostly they're single moms, living in communities like this, too. Everybody needs a little bit of help. So, I'm here to say this community matters.
I'm going to come back; we're going to come back and name the projects that you want to see funded. If you want it to go faster, find Robert Rodriguez, and we'll be back here, announce them, and the best part of all is not just the groundbreaking, but the ribbon cuttings, because they'll be cutting ribbons on a garden once known as Spanish Harlem, East Harlem, and that rose is going to continue to bloom, and the rest of the world's going to see that.
This is a magnificent place. Thank you and let me bring up the one and only Adriano Espaillat, a friend, a champion for this community. Thank you.