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State budget includes funding for fourth year of Downtown Revitalization Initiative

By Eric Reinhardt


In this July 2018 file photo, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered remarks in Auburn as he announced the city as Central New York’s winner of a $10 million prize in the $100 million in the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Cuomo on Friday announced that the new state budget includes funding for the fourth round of the DRI competition. (Photo credit: Gov. Cuomo’s Flickr account)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The new state budget includes $100 million for the fourth round of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).

The effort will support 10 additional downtown neighborhoods, one in each region of the state, “boosting local economies and fostering vibrant neighborhoods that offer a higher quality of life,” the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

Cuomo first presented the DRI program his 2016 State of the State address.

As in the previous three iterations, one community in each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) zones will be selected by the REDC to receive a $10 million investment following an application process and evaluation of each downtown’s “potential for transformation.” Applications for the fourth round are due by 4 p.m. on May 31.

“As we have already seen with 30 communities across the State, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is so much more than a $10 million prize,” Cuomo said in the news release. “This critical program completely transforms downtown communities, resulting in unprecedented growth and development that leads to a renewed sense of pride in our cities, towns and villages. I look forward to seeing another 10 communities compete and prosper over the next year thanks to this critical funding.”

Regional winners of the $10 million in DRI grant funding through the first three rounds include Auburn, Cortland, and Oswego in Central New York; Owego, Watkins Glen, and Elmira in the Southern Tier; Amsterdam, Rome, and Oneonta in the Mohawk Valley; and Saranac Lake, Watertown, and Plattsburgh in the North Country.


DRI criteria

The REDCs will weigh several criteria to select nominees, Cuomo’s office said.

Its downtown area should be compact, with well-defined boundaries. It should also be able to “capitalize on prior or catalyze future” private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas.

The community should have “recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to” its 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,” including existing residents, millennials and skilled workers.

The municipality should already “embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies” that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs and transit-oriented development.

The community 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 DRI investment plan.

The municipality has also identified “transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years,” Cuomo’s office said.

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