Funding Advances 16 Projects to Redevelop the City's Underutilized Buildings; Bolster Arts and Cultural Offerings
Downtown Revitalization Initiative Funds Key Catalytic Projects Continuing the Former Governor's Goal to Enrich Communities
Former Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced 16 transformational projects for Utica as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award. The strategic investments in Utica will redevelop underutilized buildings, improve infrastructure including parks, foster new business and bolster arts and cultural offerings. The investments are part of the Former Governor's ongoing efforts to revitalize the upstate economy and create more opportunities for the Mohawk Valley.
"We are focused on building New York State back better than ever before and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will play a critical role in our economic resurgence," Former Governor Cuomo said. "These projects in Utica are part of that resurgence and will help vault the city toward a brighter future by attracting new businesses, residents and visitors to the entire region."
"Utica is on the rise with a renewed sense of energy and optimism as we focus on our economic recovery," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Our Downtown Revitalization Initiative projects will further create economic opportunity and transform the Utica community by making renovations to historic buildings, creating vibrant public spaces and providing critical support for local small businesses."
Utica was named a Round 4 winner in November 2019. With this award, the city will advance projects that redevelop underutilized and historically significant buildings to spur commercial and residential growth. The funding will also aid projects that improve infrastructure; create and expand city parks; and enhance both the arts and cultural offerings in Utica. These efforts will continue to infuse Utica's downtown with character, creativity, and energy that attracts and welcomes diverse people, boosts sociability, and promotes both movement and exploration throughout the city.
Projects funded through the initiative will:
Restore the Kempf Block into Mixed-used Redevelopment - $750,000: Reactivation of blighted and underutilized buildings in the city's Commercial Business District to add market-rate residential apartments and commercial space across seven retail storefronts.
Establish a Business Assistance Fund - $750,000: Establishment of a grant fund for eligible small businesses within the focused area for expansion and improvement projects.
Construct Mixed-use Artspace Utica: Affordable Live/Work Artist Housing - $650,000: Construction of a new, four-story, mixed-use building with community/commercial space and affordable live/work units for local artists and their families.
Rehabilitate Veterans' Fitness and Wellness Center - $650,000: Restoration of the locker rooms and parking area of the Veterans' Fitness and Wellness Center, enhancing a valuable recreational amenity for downtown living and community well-being.
Create an Employment Center to Prepare and Attract a Diverse Workforce - $624,000: Creation of an employment center offering culturally and linguistically appropriate training and employment services for diverse populations working in the region.
Renovate Macartovin Commercial Space to Attract Businesses to the City's Commercial Corridor - $600,000: Historic rehabilitation of the Macartovin Building's vacant first floor to bring commercial space downtown, thereby attracting businesses to the heart of the city's commercial corridor.
Redevelop Oneida National Bank Building to Establish Mohawk Valley's Commercial Kitchen/Food Incubator - $400,000: Conversion of vacant space on the fifth floor of the former Oneida National Bank into the Mohawk Valley's first commercial kitchen/food Incubator.
Rehabilitate New Century Club into Modern Commercial Space - $375,000: Rehabilitation of one of downtown Utica's most historically significant buildings, the New Century Club, to create new commercial office space.
Upgrade the Stanley Theater - $340,250: Creation of a more welcoming and accessible interface for the iconic theatre with upgrades to the Genesee Street entrance and the box office department.
Repair Washington Street Garage to Expand Parking Downtown - $2,000,000: Repairs to a three-deck downtown parking facility that prioritize recommended improvements to the slab, structure, and stair tower in order to return critical downtown parking space.
Create Munson-Williams Park at Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute -$819,500: Creation of a large public-access park on underutilized institute land in the Oneida Square neighborhood with arts and culture programming.
Expand Public Art to Create a Vibrant Arts-themed Corridor - $750,000: Installation and restoration of public art throughout downtown in partnership with local artists. Project elements include a facelift for the Utica Place Garage, repairs to the iconic Sun Mural, and the creation of placemaking activity hubs.
Adaptive Reuse of DeSales Center for Inclusive Community Services - $500,000: Activation of 50,000 square feet of underutilized space to transform the DeSales Building into a more inclusive, accessible community center by installing an elevator and replacing damaged windows.
Activate Liberty Bell Park - $278,350: Conversion of Liberty Bell Park to a year-round, multi-purpose space for outdoor recreation and public events with improved lighting, landscaping, hardscaping, furnishing, and an area for an ice rink during winter.
Bestowing Roots and Wings: Improving Outdoor Community Space at the Carol L. Crooms Cultural Activities Center - $111,000: Conversion of two vacant lots into multi-purpose event spaces to complement the community and business programming of the Carol L. Crooms Cultural Activities Center.
Rehabilitate the Utica Public Library Genesee Street Corridor - $101,900: Rehabilitation of sidewalks, stone pillars, and catch basins along the Genesee Street entrance of the Utica Library to help preserve and maintain a landmark civic institution downtown.
Utica developed a strategic investment plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from its $10 million grant. A local planning committee of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort with support from a team of private sector experts and state planners. The strategic investment plan for Utica examined local assets and opportunities, identifying economic development, transportation, housing, and other projects that both align with the community's vision for downtown revitalization and are poised for implementation.
These projects are the latest example of Former Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to Utica and the Mohawk Valley.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative investments have the power to reinvigorate local communities, particularly after challenges brought on by COVID-19. These strategic projects, selected through a collaborative planning process, will create new mixed-used developments to draw residents and businesses to Utica and will also bolster community offerings for all to enjoy for years to come. I look forward to seeing these exciting projects come to life in Utica."
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Eric Gertler said, "Ensuring that our downtowns are vibrant, livable communities that are welcoming to businesses and residents is part of our overall strategy to move New York's economy forward. These projects provide investments in infrastructure, smart development, preservation and livable spaces - all critical to rebuilding our cities, our state and our economy."
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Governor Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative is creating high-quality affordable homes, improving infrastructure, spurring economic activity, and enhancing New York's downtowns. These 16 awarded projects in Utica are the result of the energy, creativity and commitment of people who care deeply about improving their communities. As we have seen in other DRI award-winning communities, this $10 million investment will draw people to live, work, and play downtown and will stimulate private sector activity in Utica and across the Mohawk Valley."
Senator Joe Griffo said, "Utica had a creative and viable plan that enabled them to successfully obtain funding for their downtown. I urge the community to include and heed input from residents as they implement their various projects."
Assembly Member Marianne Buttenschon said, "Our community members, business leaders, and all levels of government have come together since the announcement of the Utica DRI award to develop projects that will work to revitalize and reinvigorate Downtown Utica. The selected projects will build on the existing private and public partnerships within the City and will ensure the Mohawk Valley is a beautiful place to live and work for future generations. Thank you to all involved in making these projects possible, I'll continue to do anything I can to support the success of our community."
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, "Oneida County is making a significant investment in the downtown Utica corridor as well and we welcome the state's participation in that ongoing endeavor."
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, "The Downtown Revitalization Initiative provides a great opportunity for the City of Utica to continue the positive transformation of our downtown corridor. These projects are strong public-private partnerships that will serve as a catalyst for economic development and enhanced quality of life. A lot of hard work went into Utica's application and those efforts are being recognized. I thank everyone who was involved in the DRI process and Governor Cuomo for investing in our community."
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
In 2016, Former Governor Cuomo launched a major new initiative —the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Through this initiative, the Former Governor moved to aggressively accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment in all ten regions of the state. The initiative represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.
In four years, the state has 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. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation, and 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.
The initiative is headed by New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. 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.