What is the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI)?
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) was launched in the Spring of 2016. Every year, following a comprehensive application and review process, each of New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils select one community in their area to receive a $10 million award (for a total of ten awards statewide per year).
The New York Secretary of State chairs the DRI, which is supported by Empire State Development and a state agency team comprised of personnel from the Department of State and the Homes and Community Renewal division of the NYS Department of Health and Human Services. Other state agencies provide assistance with the review and implementation of projects.
How are DRI Nominees Selected?
Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) consider seven criteria when selecting award recipients:
The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
The downtown is able to capitalize on prior, or catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and its 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 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 municipality 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 strategic investment plan; and
The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years.
Once a community is selected by the REDC, a Local Planning Committee (LPC), comprised of local leaders, stakeholders and key government officials is established to oversee the development of a strategic plan for downtown revitalization.
Which Communities Have Received the DRI?
The 30 past awardees for the DRI, listed by region, are set forth in the table below:
City of Geneva, City of Batavia, Village of Penn Yan
City of Elmira, Village Watkins Glen, Town of Owego
City of Jamestown, City of Olean, City of Lockport
City of Oswego, City of Cortland, City of Auburn
City of Plattsburgh, City of Watertown, Village of Saranac Lake
City of Oneonta, City of Rome, City of Amsterdam
City of Glens Falls, City of Hudson, City of Albany (Clinton Square)
City of Middletown, City of Kingston, City of New Rochelle
New York City
Jamaica, Queens, Bronx Civic Center, Downtown Brooklyn
Village of Westbury, Hicksville (Town of Oyster Bay), Central Islip (Town of Islip)
Round Four applications1 were due at the end of May 2019. So far, the following communities have received awards during Round Four of the DRI:
Western New York
Niagara Falls Bridge District
Central New York
New York City
The DRI offers an exciting opportunity for communities across the state to obtain a needed infusion of capital to support revitalization efforts and can help transform community aspirations into a reality.
For example, the Clinton Square Neighborhood in the City of Albany is using its 2018 DRI award to create a welcoming gateway to the capital city. DRI funds will be used for variety of projects, including visual and safety improvements to the neighborhood’s streetscape, construction of Clinton Square Studio, a six-story mixed-use building consisting of 70 affordable live/work lofts exclusive to artists and ground floor retail and community spaces, and renovations to Federal Park to allow for the creation of a new market concept and proving ground for start-up businesses.
For more information about the DRI, or for inquiries related to its potential benefits or how to apply, please contact Frances Kabat, Esq. or Mindy L. Zoghlin, Esq. at The Zoghlin Group, PLLC.
The DRI Round Four Guidebook is available at: https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/DRI_Four_Guidebook.pdf
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