PLATTSBURGH — It’s been three years since New York state awarded the City of Plattsburgh $10 million to help rejuvenate its downtown.
Known as the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, those funds were allocated to 10 projects that hoped to revamp that city corridor.
Six of the projects — Durkee Street Site, Dock Street Waterfront District, the Downtown Grant Program, Riverfront Access, Downtown Streetscape Improvements, and Marketing, Branding and Signage Strategy — were to be executed with the guidance of city leadership.
A project for Albany County-based developer Prime Plattsburgh LLC to transform the Durkee Street parking lot into a mixed-use development received $4.3 million, the largest portion of the DRI funds.
That project has been at the forefront, but the other state-funded initiatives have had their wheels in motion, too.
Here’s a look at where they stand:
The state assigned $290,000 in DRI funds to the Dock Street Waterfront District.
Funds for the project were hoped to generate new uses for that city area so it could better connect the waterfront to the city’s historic core.
Those ideas were to come via Requests for Information and/or Requests for Expression of Interest.
Crane Associates Inc. completed the Highest and Best Use Study of the land, which will be used by city officials when examining future site proposals.
Community Development Director Matthew Miller said the city has now focused its attention on demolition of the Municipal Lighting Department buildings at 26 Green St.
“We just got the pre-demolition asbestos survey (results) back from KAS (Inc),” Miller said at a recent council session. “They actually found less than at least what I was expecting them to.
“We’re going to strategize about how to best to knock down as many buildings as possible with the grant funding that we have.”
Though the city received a $1 million Restore NY Grant to help fund the demolition, that project is pending MLD’s relocation.
Some 224 acres of city-owned property are being considered for that use, but because it is located off Rugar Street near Ampersand Lane in the Town of Plattsburgh, the city hopes to first annex the site from the town.
Each municipality tried for lead-agency designation for the annexation process’s detailed environmental review. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation awarded that status to the City of Plattsburgh.
DOWNTOWN GRANT PROGRAM
By way of incentivizing downtown development and rehabilitation, New York set aside $1 million for a City of Plattsburgh grant fund.
That DRI project, now called the Downtown Grant Program, was to target upper-floor residential and commercial/hotel developments, facade improvements, retail-space redevelopment and small-business support.
The Common Council originally awarded nine city properties cash from that fund, Miller said.
“There is one project currently out for bid, two projects should be out for bid shortly, five more are in various stages of completing the necessary environmental and historical testing,” he said at a recent council meeting.
“One of the awardees has dropped out of the program because of financing issues.”
That $90,000 award was to be used for the properties located from 26 to 30 City Hall Place.
Mayor Colin Read has said there is potential to reallocate those funds for another city project, such as moving the Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market from the Durkee Street lot down toward the City of Plattsburgh Marina.
RIVERFRONT ACCESS, STREETSCAPE IMPROVEMENTS
Two DRI projects — Downtown Streetscape Improvements and Riverfront Access — have been somewhat coupled.
Awarded $1.3 million and $1.6 million, respectively, the paired projects were expected to update and refine the city’s walkable areas and strengthen community access to the Saranac River.
Architectural, planning and engineering service Saratoga Associates was selected by the city to head both projects and has been joined by fellow Saratoga-based group Behan Planning and Design.
Preliminary plans were revealed at a public workshop in mid-May, and work on an incoming Arts Park between Margaret and Durkee streets was expected to start before the end of 2019.
Street improvements to the city’s Riverwalk, Durkee Street and Bridge Street are also expected, as well as sidewalk repairs.
But those improvements are paused until the city nails down replacement parking for the Durkee Street parking lot, Miller said.
“Before we spend an exorbitant amount of time looking at other streets,” he explained, “we want to make sure that the design and the construction money is going to be available for those streets.”
MARKETING, BRANDING & SIGNAGE
Allocated $250,000, the Marketing, Branding & Signage project was to implement a cohesive marketing strategy in the downtown corridor.
Those enhancements were intended to strengthen the identity of that city area, as well as improve wayfinding.
A public survey, which closed June 13, asked for community feedback on the corridor’s future banners and design elements.
Boire Benner Group is coordinating the marketing project, and subcontractor Amy Bonn led the survey.
Bonn is to create a mini-report of the survey’s findings, which will be made available to the public, other DRI developers and the project’s local advisory committee.
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