Launched in 2016, The Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) has been envisioned as “a comprehensive approach to boosting local economies by transforming communities into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family.”
As highlighted in the DRI 2021 Guidebook, the program’s fundamental goals are:
• Creating an active, desirable downtown with a strong sense of place;
• Attracting new businesses (including “Main Street” businesses), that create a robust mix of shopping, dining, entertainment and service options for residents and visitors, and that provide job opportunities for a variety of skills and salaries;
• Enhancing public spaces for arts and cultural events that serve the existing members of the community but also draw in attendees from around the region;
• Building a diverse population, with residents and workers supported by complementary diverse housing and employment opportunities;
• Growing the local property tax base;
• Providing amenities that support and enhance downtown living and quality of life; and
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by creating compact, walkable development patterns that increase public transit ridership and allow for adoption of district-wide decarbonized heating and cooling; and by supporting efficiency and electrification of buildings, installation of onsite renewable energy generation, and electric vehicle charging.
Each year ten communities – one from each of the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs): Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson, New York City, and Long Island – are awarded $10 million each for strategic investments in transformative projects that can bring commerce and culture together for an increased sense of place and amplified economic vibrancy.
In the first four DRI rounds, forty communities were selected to receive $10 million each “to undertake a bottom-up community planning process and to implement key projects recommended by the community.” Through the planning process, each community develops a shared and clear vision for what is needed to ensure a successful downtown revitalization and sets goals and lays out strategies to accomplish that vision. At the end of the process, a strategic plan is created to implement the catalytic projects as identified in the plan. In addition to community-based strategic planning, a successful DRI process involves sustained inter-agency project support and outside investments.
The Strategic Investment Downtown Revitalization Initiative Plan ought to include:
- Downtown profile and assessment;
- Community vision and goals;
- Strategies and methods to achieve the downtown revitalization vision;
- Key projects recommended for DRI funding.
In 2021 the DRI Round 5 will invest $200 million in up to 20 downtown neighborhoods across the State. As detailed in the DRI Guidebook, each of the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) solicits applications and chooses one or two downtowns that are ready for revitalization and have the potential to become a magnet for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity, and opportunity. Applications for the current round must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 15, 2021. NYC applications are due by September 3, 2021.
DRI Round 5 is in fact twice as big as the previous rounds. This year each REDC may award $20 million to one or two downtowns. Each REDC will decide whether to nominate two $10 million awardees or one $20 million award upon review of submitted applications.
Desirable attributes for participation in the DRI, as highlighted in the guidebook, include:
- Well-defined boundaries
- Past investments
- Recent job growth
- Quality of life
- Supportive local policies
- Public support
- Transformative opportunities and readiness
- Administrative capacity
The winners from the previous four rounds are as follow:
ROUND I: Elmira (Southern Tier), Geneva (Finger Lakes), Glens Falls (Capital Region), Jamaica (New York City), Jamestown (Western New York), Middletown (Mid-Hudson), Oneonta (Mohawk Valley), Oswego (Central New York), Plattsburgh (North Country), and Westbury (Long Island).
ROUND II: Batavia (Finger Lakes), Bronx (New York City), Cortland (Central New York), Hicksville (Long Island), Hudson (Capital Region), Kingston (Mid-Hudson), Olean (Western New York), Rome (Mohawk Valley), Watertown (North Country), and Watkins Glen (Southern Tier).
ROUND III: Albany (Capital Region), Amsterdam (Mohawk Valley), Auburn (Central New York), Central Islip (Long Island), Downtown Brooklyn (New York City), Lockport (Western New York), New Rochelle (Mid-Hudson), Owego (Southern Tier), Penn Yan (Finger Lakes), and Saranac Lake (North Country).
ROUND IV: Schenectady (Capital Region), Fulton (Central New York), Seneca Falls (Finger Lakes), Baldwin (Long Island), Peekskill (Mid-Hudson), Utica (Mohawk Valley), Staten Island (New York City), Potsdam (North Country), Hornell (Southern Tier), and Niagara Falls Bridge District (Western New York).
To learn more, visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/downtown-revitalization-initiative