DRI: Outdoor spaces central to revitalizing downtown Gloversville


Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis speaks in front of St. Thomas Square regarding the city’s DRI projects.

GLOVERSVILLE – In revitalizing a downtown, the outdoor elements are just as important as shops and restaurants, says Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis. That’s why the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative application includes projects like Littauer Piazza and Complete Streets. 

“No matter how many great economic development projects you have, it’s really up to the government to connect these things with well-designed infrastructure in terms of public spaces and the streetscape improvements that connect all of these projects together,” DeSantis said.  

The Littauer Piazza, at 12-18 South Main Street, is the perfect example. Until last summer, the site was home to the three-story 1880s Littauer Building, which housed the city’s first public library and had been used for commercial space at different times over the course of its history, according to DeSantis. But the building had been vacant for about two decades, and DeSantis said the facade of the collapsed building was no longer safe to keep up.

After the demolition was complete in September of last year, city leaders recognized the city-owned lot’s potential as a public square, with natural acoustics–bolstered by the shape of the brick buildings lining it on three sides–making it an ideal concert and performance venue. 

More: All our DRI coverage – and Gloversville coverage as a whole

“We don’t have a stage or a bandshell, per se, or anything that can have a lot of versatile programming,” said Gloversville Downtown Development Specialist James Hannahs. “So when we looked at this space, it concaves perfectly, and it creates the acoustics, which is entirely unintentional.”

This vision is to use $400,000 of DRI funding to help complete a $1,000,050 project to transform the empty lot into a public square in the heart of downtown. 

“Brick facades, vertical vegetation, and upper story windows now overlook the vacant parcel, effectively changing the perspective from a blighted lot to an urban public piazza,” the application reads. 

DeSantis said the city is envisioning hosting everything from Food Truck Fridays to concerts in the landscaped square, which will feature grass and shade trees. The square will be outfitted with moveable furniture that allows the square to adapt to a variety of uses, said Hannahs.  

“We want to hit it right with consistent, active programming to allow the public to engage in the space with a little more intent. That’s where the importance of moveable furniture comes in–it makes it super versatile, and it allows people to create their own sense of space,” Hannahs said. 

Of course, part of getting people to come downtown to enjoy concerts and festivals depends on making it easier to physically get downtown. That’s why the city’s DRI application includes $720,000 for the $1.2 million Complete Streets project to make the city more accessible and safer for non-motorized traffic. 

The project would enhance safety and mobility throughout downtown by using road and intersection markings combined with trail connections and sidewalk improvements, according to the application. The project would also build a more recognizable connection between Trail Station Park, the Fonda, Gloversville and Johnstown Rail Trail and the downtown commercial district. 

In addition, the Complete Streets project calls for expanding Trail Station Park into the city-owned parking lot to the east. The city plans on excavating the parking lot to make way for a splash pad and youth recreation area decorated with additional green space and new landscaping, complete with a pathway extension from the Rail Trail to Frontage Road, according to the application. 

More: All our DRI coverage – and Gloversville coverage as a whole

The project would also continue the trail’s extension to the downtown commercial district via Church and Elm Streets, with the city installing protected bike lanes and crosswalks for pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and other non-motorized traffic. 

Standing near the Elm St. Pavilion recently, DeSantis said, “We have to reconnect all of the neighborhoods in a walkable way to the downtown so that it is easy and safe for non-motorized traffic.” 

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite. 

By Andrew Waite

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