NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood and the City of North Tonawanda will receive $10 million each as part of the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI).
Buffalo and North Tonawanda are the Western New York region winners of the fifth round of the DRI.
"As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state's 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods," a release from the governor's office says.
The governor's office said the Western New York Region Economic Development Council conducted a review of proposals submitted and considered the criteria below before recommending Buffalo and North Tonawanda as nominees:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its 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 be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan;
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
- The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI fund
Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood
Located in the City of Buffalo's East Side, the Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood is one of the oldest in Buffalo, and the focus of Buffalo's plan for a downtown investment. The Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood with a relatively dense stock of largely historic commercial buildings, set forth a vision of creating special urban places, key park spaces, retail-oriented streets, improved neighborhood connections, bike and pedestrian connections, streetscape improvements and public realm improvements. This area has seen many completed and ongoing investments, including multiple mixed-use redevelopments, a community health hub, and improvements to the Broadway Market and Buffalo Central Terminal. Building on this momentum, Buffalo aims to encourage redevelopment of vacant structures, provide better connections between anchors and amenities through greenspace, increase affordable housing opportunities, and enhance the streetscape.
North Tonawanda aims to make their downtown a vibrant, mixed-use district centered on the confluence of two waterfronts: the Niagara River and the Erie Canal, to create a unified and interconnected environment as the "Gateway to the Erie Canal". Downtown North Tonawanda is unique as it includes the 80-acre Tonawanda Island and is itself a local historic preservation district. With a demonstrated ability to pursue and implement large projects, including the $2.5 million Smart Growth Community Fund, the Remington Lofts project, and the $20 million River Road Apartments, and multiple ongoing projects, including the River Road Reconstruction project, $24 million Timber Shore project, and $3 million YWCA of the Niagara Frontier building, North Tonawanda wants to increase public/green space, improve senior housing, and improve infrastructure to support further development.
Jamestown, Olean, Lockport and Niagara Falls were the Western New York Region's winners in the first four DRI rounds.
As a Buffalo native, I know the impact this funding will have in improving the Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood and North Tonawanda. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how important our small businesses and local communities are to the state's economy and for New York to succeed, we must protect them. These investments will serve to show all that these communities have to offer, so that they will not just survive, but thrive as we build back toward a brighter future.