LITTLE FALLS, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Little Falls will receive $10 million in funding as one of the Mohawk Valley region winners of the fifth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
“All New Yorkers deserve access to a lively downtown area where they can find a well-paying job and an affordable place to live, and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative helps make this a reality,” Governor Hochul said. “The revitalization of Little Falls’ Waterfront District will be yet another success story of this project, as all who live and work there will enjoy continued economic prosperity and a pristine community environment.”
The DRI serves as a cornerstone of the State’s economic development policy by transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract redevelopment, businesses, jobs, and economic and housing diversity. Governor Hochul doubled funding from $100 million to $200 million and allowed each Regional Economic Development Council to decide whether to nominate two $10 million awardees or one $20 million awardee for transformative and catalytic downtown redevelopment projects.
The Little Falls’ DRI will focus on the Waterfront District. As the only city in Herkimer County, Little Falls wants to become the most desirable residential community in the region by reconnecting isolated parts of the city to create a single downtown waterfront district. The city has seen approximately $11.6 million in recent and ongoing investments and anticipates another $76.8 million in the future. These investments include new apartment housing, a bourbon distilling site, and a proposed new train station providing passenger service. Building on this momentum, Little Falls aims to increase housing opportunities, expand pedestrian/bike connectivity, and increase bike/pedestrian safety within the downtown area.
The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending Little Falls as one of the nominees:
• The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries.
• The downtown can 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 near 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, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility, and cultural background.
• The municipality should already embrace or could 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 plan, 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.
• The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
• The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.
Little Falls Mayor Mark Blask said, “While the City of Little Falls has an impressive history, our best days are still ahead of us. This strategic and historic investment of $10 million from the State of New York will leverage our existing assets with new and cutting-edge technology that will take our small city into the next generation. Our bold agenda to Rethink, Rebuild, and Reconnect the heart of the city has now been made possible under the leadership of Governor Kathy Hochul. I applaud her efforts to continue to advocate on behalf of communities like ours in the Mohawk Valley.”
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative launched in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State, the initiative represents an unprecedented and innovative plan-to-act strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation, bringing with it an interagency team of state experts to support local government capacity in realizing their community’s vision.