PATTERN BRINGS TOGETHER MAYORS OF THREE CITIES THAT WON THE $10 MILLION DOWNTOWN REVITALIZATION INITIATIVE
The leaders offered their insights and answered questions about the process
NEWBURGH (April 24, 2019) – The mayors of three Hudson Valley cities that received $10 million each in funding from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) gathered today to discuss their experience negotiating the high stakes application process and answered questions from community leaders who are interested in applying for the funds to help transform their neighborhoods into vibrant communities.
Mayors Joe DeStefano of Middletown, Steve Noble of Kingston, and Noam Bramson of New Rochelle also discussed where they are in the various stages of the program, which began in 2016. The panel discussion took place at SUNY Orange’s Newburgh campus and was moderated by Jonathan Drapkin, president and CEO of Pattern for Progress.
“We couldn’t be more pleased that we’re holding the event just days after New York State announced funding for the fourth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” said Drapkin. “We hope the information conveyed today will result in more communities seeking to apply, armed with strategies on how to create a successful application.”
Middletown, which in 2016 was the first DRI winner in the Hudson Valley, has projects that are well underway, with several completed. DeStefano explained that Middletown’s application was stronger because of the investment the city had already made in its downtown.
“Since the DRI award, we’ve had 20 properties in the downtown area sell. This really triggered … about $17 million in private investment in the downtown on properties that were empty for many, many years and are now viable businesses,” said DeStefano. “Overall a hundred housing units are on a plan to be created. There are another 50 units that people are looking to do construction in and around the downtown area.”
The state has approved all the projects for Kingston, which won the award in 2017. Noble shared that city completed its application in-house because it believed no-one could tell Kingston’s story better than the city itself.
The application process “shined a light on the great work that was already happening. It was also a shot in the arm for our people,” Noble said. “Kingston has gone through rough times. We’ve gone through the boom and bust cycle…but we didn’t give up. We kept fighting. Today you visit Kingston, people are excited about the future. That’s what this project did for us.”
New Rochelle, which won in 2018 after two unsuccessful attempts, has just finished the planning and community engagement phase of the project.
“It’s a validation, a seal of approval, which is very useful in terms of internal and external marketing purposes for our community. It gives us a chance to do things we wouldn’t do otherwise,” said Bramson. “If this money was generated internally, we would feel obligated to spend it on sewers and other things that are not glamorous but are essential to the community. With an external award, you feel you have the license to do things that are exciting and visionary.”
In its fourth year, the DRI program will invest $100 million into 10 additional downtown neighborhoods across the state. Participating communities are nominated by the state’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) based on the downtown’s potential for transformation. 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.
About Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress
Hudson Valley Pattern For Progress is policy, planning, advocacy and research nonprofit that has promoted regional, balanced and sustainable solutions for the Hudson River Valley since 1965. Visit Pattern-For-Progress.org. Follow us on Twitter at @HVPattern. Like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn.