The Chamber team had the opportunity to attend Governor Cuomo’s unveiling of the projects selected for the City of Geneva’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The projects will include a transformation of the current Geneva Visitors Center into a brand new, state-of-the-art Finger Lakes Welcome Center, as well as several business and infrastructure upgrades across downtown Geneva. We’re very excited to see this plan in action!
Click on the image above to view the official slideshow with the design plans for the new Welcome Center, and click here for the full press release!
Governor Cuomo Announces Winning Projects for Geneva’s $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative
Revitalizes Blighted Properties in Downtown Geneva into Vibrant New Developments and Boosts Local Economy
Modernizes Infrastructure, Improves Pedestrian Access and Develops Public Marina
Installs Open Access Fiber-Optic Broadband Infrastructure to Catalyze Economic Development
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the winning projects selected for the City of Geneva in New York as part of the state’s $100 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The DRI aims to transform local neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise a family. Working together with state agencies and the Regional Economic Development Council, the City of Geneva built a strategic investment plan with catalytic downtown projects consistent with the initiative’s goals.
“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will bolster Geneva’s economic renaissance by investing in local assets to attract jobs, private investment and transform the downtown into a vibrant economic engine for the entire region,” Governor Cuomo said. “These strategic and diverse projects will help grow the job market, develop the business district, and build on our momentum to keep the Finger Lakes moving forward.”
The 12 winning projects are:
$2.2 Million to Improve Pedestrian Access to the Seneca Lakefront from Downtown
State Routes 5 & 20 come together in the City of Geneva to form a single State highway separating its vibrant central business district and a 60-acre public lakefront on Seneca Lake. Improvements to the main State highway through the City of Geneva will better connect downtown Geneva and the lakefront through the introduction of enhanced crosswalks, landscaped medians, new sidewalks, and a reduction in the travel lanes, making the pedestrian experiences safer and more appealing.
$1.75 Million to Upgrade the Pedestrian Experience with Streetscape Enhancements
Implement Complete Streets streetscape and pedestrian enhancements along Exchange and Castle Streets, downtown Geneva’s two main downtown commercial/retail streets. The project will improve the aesthetic appeal of downtown Geneva and will create a safer and more appealing pedestrian environment. Components of the project include installation of benches, planters, enhanced crosswalk treatments, sidewalk bump outs at select intersections, sidewalk replacement in areas of deterioration, additional lighting and trash cans.
$900,000 to Revitalize the Historic Dove Block Building
Renovate and revitalize one of downtown Geneva’s most historically significant and prominently located buildings, the Dove Block. This vacant three-story commercial building, built in 1878, is in a key downtown location. Planning for the renovation of the Dove Block is currently underway with significant community support; the DRI project will continue this project by supporting needed renovations and infrastructure upgrades necessary to prepare the building for new uses and reactivate a key landmark in the center of the downtown.
$750,000 to Develop a Public DowntownMarina
Develop a public marina north of the existing Long Pier to increase the number of boat slips available to residents and visitors, and increase the attraction of downtown to boaters. The project includes development of a breakfront extension to Long Pier to provide a more protected harbor from the harsh Seneca Lake wind-blown waves. The marina will accommodate watercraft of various sizes, anywhere from jet skis to 35-foot boats.
$1.25 Million to Establish Lake Tunnel Solar Village
Create Lake Tunnel Solar Village, a green infill residential development that will also serve as a demonstration project for a new product called the LifeCube. LifeCube, manufactured in Geneva, will use solar electric and heat pump technology to provide 100 percent of the annual electrical and heat needs for the development, which will include approximately 24 vacation rentals and 28 micro-apartments as well as new public greenspace. The project also includes a new pathway that will connect the new housing to both the commercial center of downtown Geneva and the Lakefront. The project will create a new unique attraction, increase downtown visitor traffic and connectivity to the lakefront, and connect wine trail visitors to Geneva’s thriving food scene.
$650,000 to Restore the Patent Block Building at 20 East Castle Street
Restore the vacant and deteriorated Patent Block building at the corner of Exchange and Castle Streets, at one of the primary gateways to Geneva’s business district. The renovations will include creation of two ground floor storefronts that face Castle Street and apartments in the back and on the second level and a new third level. Restoration of the Patent Block will address pervasive blight and foster connectivity between downtown and the lakefront.
$650,000 to Make the Five-Point Intersection Pedestrian-Friendly
Upgrade the five-point intersection at the intersection of Castle, North Main, South Main, Milton and Castle Streets. Proposed improvements to the heavily-used intersection, which connects downtown, the library, and adjacent residential neighborhoods, will slow traffic and allow for safer pedestrian connections through the use of raised pedestrian crossings, more vibrant crosswalk striping, more defined pedestrian bump outs to reduce crossing lengths, and landscaped islands/pedestrian refuges. The project will also increase the number of on-street parking spaces to support library visitors.
$600,000 to Establish a Fund Encouraging Historic Preservation
Support downtown property owners to encourage adaptive reuse of vacant and underutilized buildings to fill market needs and preserve and enhance the historic character of downtown. This project will create a fund to offer grants and loans to property owners for repairs and renovations necessary to bring buildings back to productive use and enhance the city’s tax base.
$475,000 to Repurpose Vacant Theater into a Micro-Brewery
Repurpose a vacant theater at 499 Exchange Street for use as the Twisted Rail Brewery. The facility will serve as Twisted Rail’s main brewery, house a tasting room and restaurant encompassing approximately 9,000 square feet, and an educational venue for patrons interested in learning about brewing. The new multi-faceted entertainment and education center will serve as a new anchor establishment in downtown Geneva that will attract visitors and expand the dining options in downtown.
More than $180,000 for Smith Opera House Enhancements
Smith Opera House enhancements will allow the facility to attract more and higher quality acts, and will create a visual anchor in downtown Geneva. The project is geared towards increasing downtown activity by increasing the frequency of high quality acts on the Smith stage, upgrading and adding new features to existing spaces that would allow increased use of facilities, and increasing the visibility and identity of the Smith Opera House by highlighting its architectural features and bringing public art to Seneca Street. The project also includes an informational sidewalk marquee, the addition of catering kitchen to existing Cabaret space, and upgrades to the dressing rooms.
$150,000 to Improve Downtown Broadband Infrastructure
Install open access fiber-optic broadband infrastructure in the heart of downtown Geneva to benefit both commercial and residential properties and catalyze economic development in the area. The project will support the installation of 1.5 miles of fiber-optic cable, offer high-speed internet access throughout the downtown, and will allow the city to install four public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Nearly $150,000 to Install a Gateway Sign
This project includes design, construction and installation of a gateway sign over Exchange Street near the intersection with Lake Street. The sign will create an archway that will act as a gateway feature that welcomes visitors to the downtown.
New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, “This work will bring economic opportunity for businesses to grow and reinvigorate Geneva’s economy. This project will also attract a new economic landscape with job development, modern infrastructure, and prosperity. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative capitalizes on crafting new economic opportunities for residents, entrepreneurs and a new commercial and residential boom for all to enjoy. The state’s $10 million investment will leverage many more prospects for this vibrant city and create a better place for residents, businesses and visitors.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Governor Cuomo’s DRI program was created to recognize and reward the best in local, well-planned growth that anticipates and balances the needs of the current residents with the promise of new mixed-use development. Helping communities like Geneva embark on a path that embraces renewal, fresh employment and housing opportunities, recreational and arts enrichment, and creating a more attractive and livable community guarantees a more vital future for all New Yorkers.”
Senator Pamela Helmingsaid, “Geneva has positioned itself as a city on the rise and holds promise to attract new businesses and families to come to the Finger Lakes region. This critical funding will build on the City’s progress by helping to support our job creators, revitalize downtown neighborhoods, modernize our infrastructure, and boost our local economy. I applaud the City of Geneva and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council for working together to come up with a strategic plan deserving of this important award. I appreciate and welcome the growing focus on the Finger Lakes region, and look forward to watching the Geneva community continue to move in the right direction.”
Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb said, “State investments are a critical component to jump-starting local economies. It’s important that communities like Geneva are able to showcase existing assets and develop new ways attract visitors and generate revenue. I applaud all those whose hard work resulted in this exciting project and look forward to working alongside local leaders in their efforts to transform Downtown Geneva.”
City of Geneva Mayor Ron Alcocksaid, “These projects represent a unique blend of partnerships between the state, city, and private investors which will serve as a launch pad for implementation of the city’s strategic vision, as expressed in our comprehensive plan. Governor Cuomo’s continued support of our community-led planning initiatives has advanced our strategy in an immeasurable way.”
Geneva Town Supervisor Mark Venuti said, “Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is yet another example of his dedication to fostering economic growth across Upstate New York. In Geneva, were thrilled to be one of the very first recipients of the $10 million DRI awards. With the support of our local planning committee, we are working to bring the community’s vision for Geneva to life and creating opportunities that were once unheard of. With the support of Governor Cuomo, we are have successfully secured a strong future for Geneva and it is safe to say, we are moving the Finger Lakes Forward.”
Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Marren said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is the crown jewel of Governor Cuomo’s efforts to restore hope and economic opportunity to upstate New York. These strategic investments in Geneva will improve pedestrian access, connecting Seneca Lake to downtown; develop a public downtown marina; and will also restore, enhance and revitalize historic buildings, bringing new life into the area. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for all you do for our community.”
The City of Geneva
Over the last decade, Geneva has emerged as a major employment center, boasting over 200 firms and nearly 1,500 jobs in the central business district alone. Geneva’s historic walkable downtown is poised to become a vibrant retail, dining, cultural and entertainment destination for the burgeoning workforce and for students at the three local colleges. Under the DRI, the City will focus on the rehabilitation of key buildings; diversification of housing and retail options; access to healthy food; and building entrepreneurship in the downtown area.
Geneva was selected as the winning DRI community in the Finger Lakes New York region after the local regional Council weighed seven criteria in selecting Geneva as its nominee:
- The targeted neighborhood should be compact and well-defined.
- The downtown, or its center, should be of a size sufficient to support an active, year-round downtown and should have a sizeable existing or increasing population within easy reach for whom this would be the primary downtown.
- The downtown should capitalize on prior, and catalyze future, private and public investment in the neighborhood and 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 contain properties or characteristics that contribute or that could contribute, if enhanced, to the attractiveness and livability of the downtown, including the presence of developable mixed-use spaces, housing at different levels of affordability and type, commercial and retail main street businesses, including healthy and affordable food markets, walkability and bikeability, and public parks and gathering spaces.
- The downtown should contain or articulate how it can create policies that enhance quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes, complete streets plans, or transit-oriented development; and
- Local and community support must exist for revitalization of the downtown. There must be a commitment among local leaders and stakeholders to build and implement a strategic investment plan for the downtown.
For more information on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and how to apply for its second round, go to: https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov.