Gloversville’s latest DRI proposal to go live today

FILE PHOTO

By Jason Subik

The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist James Hannahs on Wednesday said he believes it’s “now or never” for his city to finally win the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative contest.

“This is it,” Hannahs said. “This is our fifth application, and we are at the best timing that we’ve had for Gloversville so far.”

Today at noon the city’s DRI application consulting firm — Elan Planning & Design, of Saratoga Springs — will post a new list of the city’s proposed 2021 DRI economic development projects, along with an online survey posted to www.cityofgloversvilledri.com. The survey will be available for the public to comment on the proposed projects until Sept. 3.

“There is a component of public outreach that has to be involved with this, and what we did traditionally in the past was public forums at the library or the CRG office, these larger public gathering spaces, but the pandemic has sort of helped us rethink how we can reach the public and virtual engagement has been more validated,” Hannahs said.

Hannahs said he also will post a link to the online survey to the city’s Facebook page, and print versions will be available at his office at the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth at 34 W Fulton St.

The list of the 13 proposed projects that would have gone into Gloversville’s 2020 DRI application was still posted to cityofgloversvilledri.com as of Wednesday afternoon. That list included some projects that are no longer possible, like a renovation project for the recently demolished 26 South Main St. building, as well as other projects like the $20 million 75-unit Glove City Lofts Artist Housing apartment building, which have advanced considerably since last year.

Hannahs said the online survey will ask members of the public to comment and provide suggestions about different aspects of the city’s DRI application, and those comments will help shape the final application due to the state by Sept. 15.

“The timing of the private investment that is coming into the city, the money that the city is putting back into itself in terms of public spaces and public safety is more than what we’ve seen since our earlier applications,” Hannahs said. “And the level of community leadership that goes along with all of that — this undercurrent of hungry, creative thinkers who are purchasing property and getting involved in grassroots movements wanting to move the city ahead — a lot of that stuff is new, so we’re sort of at a time where we are really just primed and prepped for this and our momentum has taken leaps and bounds since our last application.”

Gloversville applied for the first four rounds of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative contest, which was awarded each year from 2016 to 2019 to a different city’s downtown area in each of the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Council areas. During the first four rounds Gloversville competed with other Mohawk Valley Region cities and lost out to Oneonta, Rome, Amsterdam and Utica, which won in 2019. Also competing for the grant in 2019 for the Mohawk Valley Region was Cooperstown and Sharon Springs, which will likely be Gloversville’s competition again for the 2021 version of the contest.

One unique aspect of the city of Gloversville’s recent applications for the contest has been a pledge from the city government to invest $1 million of the city’s reserve funds toward the economic development projects if the state awards the DRI to Gloversville.

The DRI contest was canceled in 2020 due to New York state’s budget crisis from the coronavirus pandemic, but was put back into the state’s 2020-21 budget.

The stated purpose of the contest has been to stimulate cities to organize economic development projects and to think strategically about how to develop their urban cores. For the cities that have won the contest the state money is expected to produce tens of millions of dollars in private investment along with the $10 million state grant.

It is unknown whether newly sworn-in Gov. Kathy Hochul will continue to support the DRI contest in its current form or modify it in some substantial way for the state’s next budget cycle, but Hochul has been a vocal proponent of the process in the past, and personally announced the funding of the DRI projects in the city of Amsterdam in 2019.

By Paul Wager