City stakeholders may be one step ahead of their competition when it comes to acquiring $10 million for downtown revitalization. It was announced earlier this week that one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 signature proposals to invest $100 million in 10 communities was included in the state budget.
The initiative is to assist communities with transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects to attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses. The governor’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative will allocate $10 million toward one city or town in each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.
”A thriving downtown can provide a tremendous boost to the local economy,” Cuomo said in a news release Thursday. ”This initiative will transform selected downtown neighborhoods into vibrant places for people to live, work and raise a family – which will also help attract new investments and businesses for years to come. The regional councils have been key to generating new opportunities for local economies and I am excited to have them spearhead this new effort to build on that progress from the ground up.”
Greg Lindquist, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation executive director, said several community stakeholders have been working on this initiative since it was first announced as a proposal at the beginning of the year. Lindquist said the JRC has been working with city, county, Chamber of Commerce, Visitors Bureau and representatives from local attractions on potential projects in downtown Jamestown that could win the Western New York competition.
”We are putting our best foot forward to come to a consensus on the project and project area that would be highly competitive in this competition,” Lindquist said.
City officials have been working with David Spillane, Goody Clancy Planning and Urban Design principal, on identifying projects for downtown that could procure the $10 million. Goody Clancy is the architecture firm that created Jamestown’s Urban Design Plan. In 2006, city officials adopted the plan, which identified a need to look at how vehicles and pedestrians move throughout the city – in particular, the downtown core. That plan was crafted with help from Bergmann Associates.
Lindquist said the application process hasn’t been defined yet by state officials. However, he believes local officials are ahead of other municipalities in Western New York because they were already meeting to discuss downtown revitalization initiatives before the proposal was included in the state budget.
”We feel we are ahead of the curve on the competition,” he said. ”From the first day the program was announced as part of the governor’s agenda, we have been working together as a team for downtown Jamestown.”
Last month, Lindquist said one reason Jamestown is a quality candidate for the $10 million downtown revitalization funding is the millions in private capital investment that already have been or will be invested in improving the city’s urban core. An example of this investment includes the $7.4 million renovation of the Wellman Building that was completed in 2012 by Jamestown Development IV’s, in conjunction with Ontario Specialty Contracting.
Currently, there is the George Patti III of GPatti Development renovation of the former M&T Bank Building into the new Signature Center. The building renovation project will entail the use of $3.5 million in public and private funding. In the near future, GPatti Development and Buffalo developer Jon McLellan will start renovations to the Lillian V. Ney Renaissance Center to create a microbrewery and restaurant. The initial cost estimate for the redevelopment project is $2-2.5 million.
According to the governor’s news release, each regional council will weigh seven proposed criteria to select their nominee:
The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and 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 contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces.
The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, Complete Streets plans or transit-oriented development.
Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
This post originally appeared in The Post-Journal on April 9, 2016: http://www.post-journal.com/page/content.detail/id/690183/Downtown-Revitalization–Program-Included-In-State-Budget.html?nav=5193