By JASON SUBIK
The Gloversville Common Council has approved hiring Saratoga Springs-based Elan Planning & Design LLC to help the city apply for this year’s New York state $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
Gloversville applied for and lost the Mohawk Valley Region’s education of the annual economic development contest for each of its first four years, but officials are hopeful the addition of the proposed $20 million “Glove City Lofts” 75-unit “artist housing” project, to be built at 52 Church St., will prove to be the anchor project the city needs to finally win the contest.
Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist James Hannahs, who works for the city and the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth, said the city was preparing for its fifth application for the grant money in 2020 when New York state suspended the contest, along with most of the rest of its economic development initiatives amid a state budget crunch made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the fifth round, we had started an application last year, but because of the pandemic we had to sort of drop our pencils, and put it aside because of the uncertainty of what was happening,” he said. “In the moment, it was disappointing because we’ve always believed we were in a good position to apply. We have some good projects, and we’re working with developers and ongoing stuff. We now think this was a blessing in disguise because it gave us another year to start establishing some more feasible projects, and throughout this past year we’ve had some pretty decently large developments take hold and be announced.”
Hannahs explained that the economic development theory behind the $10 million DRI contest is that the state funding for projects will serve as a catalyst for additional private sector investment, hopefully leading to as much as $30 million total being invested in the urban core of the city.
“This is meant to help catapult momentum that’s already been built,” he said.
In 2019 Gloversville competed with the cities of Utica, Cooperstown and Sharon Springs for the Mohawk Valley Region’s edition of the $10 million DRI, ultimately losing to Utica. In the first three rounds of the contest the cities of Amsterdam, Rome and Oneonta won the $10 million DRI for the Mohawk Valley Region.
Gloversville’s 2019 plan had included a proposed $5 million Glove Theatre restoration project, a $1 million Schine Building renovation, $1.4 million project to connect downtown to the Rail Trail and Cayadutta Creek — and Gloversville’s plan included a unique aspect for a fiscally stressed city, the willingness to put up $1.1 million of the city’s approximately $6 million fund balance of unspent tax revenues.
Hannahs said the 2021 plan will be better, because it will include something tied to the $20 million “Glove City Lofts” project. He said the Glove City Lofts developer the Kearney Realty Group does not need any DRI funding to build its apartment building, but the group has had a strong track record of building projects in downtowns that would later win the state’s DRI contest.
“They’ve had projects associated with DRI winners in two of the last four rounds,” Hannahs said.
Hannahs said the city will unveil more details about its 2021 $10 million DRI application on Wednesday during a live streamed video on the city’s Facebook page. He said the time has not been set yet, but it will be between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., and the CRG will issue a news release with more details soon.