In 2015, Plattsburgh vied for and subsequently won a Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant to leverage $10 million in state investment with $25 million more in private investment.
The city then appointed a number of regional leaders to a local planning committee to recommend a number of projects that Albany subsequently earmarked for development.
These included better public riverfront access, improved streetscapes, and new downtown signage with wayfinding that celebrates our history.
In addition, the DRI provided downtown property owners with over $1 million in improvements to the existing housing stock, and enhanced local food availability.
The centerpiece for the DRI was a new mixed residential and commercial development on the north side of the Durkee Street Parking Lot.
The original proposal recommended a developer build 47,000 square feet of commercial space and 45 apartments. In 2018, the Community Development Office successfully attracted the developer Prime Plattsburgh.
They listened to the public and downtown businesses wary of so much new commercial space, and proposed instead a project with 10,000 square feet of commercial space, 114 apartments, and abundant public and private parking.
Separately, the Common Council has also been working with the Farmer’s Market to provide a year-round facility in the harborside area.
The council also realized more downtown activity will require abundant long term parking, so it commissioned a study to create options to ensure multi-hour parking for county and local employees and residents affected by re-instituted parking enforcement.
Federal and state grants and county collaboration allowed the city to secure more than $2 million for parking improvements, for ensuring that any parking displaced will be replaced elsewhere downtown, and for razing and relocating legacy Municipal Lighting Department buildings in need of extensive repairs.
Once these non-DRI projects are completed, our Harborside will be attractive and accessible, new downtown parking will be ADA-compliant and more accessible and convenient for all users, and no less abundant, and $25 million of grants and zero-interest loans secured by the city will improve aesthetics and negate the odor and sound from the wastewater plant.
The Governor imagined that a modest DRI investment would complement such a wave of civic creativity. He’s correct. The downtown Renaissance created wonderful new opportunities as the DRI inspired the city to reinvent itself in myriad ways.
Collectively, these projects are injecting some $64 million in our downtown. The City has never before benefited from that kind of investment in such a short period of time.
For that investment the city and entire region are grateful. No plan is perfect, but it’s the best we’ve seen in generations.
Some don’t see the incredible benefits that accrue to our region from a $64 million investment, even as we marvel at much smaller investments elsewhere. Let’s view it another way.
Multifamily residential construction spending alone will generate the equivalent of 273 jobs, and inject $12 million of labor income into Plattsburgh pocketbooks.
Once construction ends, the buying power 114 new households choosing to live downtown will raise the city’s collective household income by approximately $8 million.
The standard economic tool called IMPLAN Input/Output analysis reveals that such spending power will generate more than 41 permanent jobs, many of them downtown.
Total output will rise by about $6 million annually. Full and limited service restaurants garner over $300,000 annually, the hospital and physicians almost $800,000, and local retail, including such shops as the Co-op, accrue more than $335,000 annually.
The real estate industry also benefits substantially.
This influx permits property taxes to fall as state and local governments accrue an additional $1 million annually.
These benefits accrue just from new market-rate apartments. Imagine the combined effect from the entire $64 million investment overall, year after year.
That’s the sound of fiscal sustainability. Meanwhile parking is improved, including around Durkee Street, as the naysayers well know.
And, we’ve better access to our waterfronts and more greenspace.
This significant investment will allow the city to thrive while similar cities winnow away.
The DRI was envisioned to unleash untapped economic potential. We’ve a developer and state that has faith in us.
Our success is the $64 million question.