Author Archives: Chris Colabella

Proposed Boardwalk-Hugging Belhaven Hotel to Seek Variances

Curently in the design-development stage, the Belhaven Hotel to sit on the boardwalk on Rehoboth Beach will rise into place on the same spot at the famous Belhaven hotel stood until a storm destroyed it in the 1960’s. 

 

The current landowners, the Papajohn family, hope for it to be a modernization of the original. This is the third hotel proposed in the last year that is looking for a home in the lucrative area that locals hope will mean more competitive prices and a bigger boom in summer tourism at the beach. Citing concerns about environmental and weather hazards, the developers are working with the Rehoboth Board of Adjustment to establish multiple variances to the structure. 

What Do We Know About the Structure So Far? 

The famous saying may be “out with the old and in with the new,” but the Papajohn family wants to be sure that the classic vestiges of the property keep their sparkle in the space, so the highlights to be expected are a mixed bag of local favorites and modern improvements:

  • Previous retailers and food establishments. Businesses once housed in the space currently occupying the property are invited to return to the ground floor of the new Belhaven, which will include a bar, a shop and at least two restaurants. These establishments include the Spice and Tea Exchange and the Candy Kitchen. 
  • Four Floors of Rooms. The finished structure will be a full four stories, doubling the original’s size. The original proposal included 120 guest rooms but was reduced to 100 in the final blueprint to allow for additional square footage.
  • Underground Parking Structure. The parking garage will serve two potential purposes: leaving more walking space on the street and boardwalk free of cars and providing a more solid foundation for the hotel to sit upon in this beachy environment.

 

Concerns have been cited regarding the height of the building, the potential for flooding in the parking area, and other parts of the design that might be too sensitive to survive the weather in the local environment. The variances that the developers are seeking hope to rectify those problems, including extra measures for flood prevention, embellishment heights, and more. 

Are There Any Unique Construction Considerations to be Taken?

For contractors who are accustomed to coastal locations, there is likely not going to be a lot that’s new about building a structure like this on the boardwalk. It will need the proper supports and foundation, and some further issues cited in the variances may come in that help to make the hotel more sound. As mentioned before, it will not be the only hotel coming up in the area, so any new considerations may quickly become familiar to workers in the region. 

What Will It Take to Complete This Project?

For contractors and developers on the project, this will not be a short process, from the very beginning.

  • The original structure must be demolished, and the ground underneath needs to be reworked in preparation for the parking garage, with the required supports.
  • The parking structure, whether single or multi-level, may wind up consuming much of the time allotted for finishing the project on deadline (still to be determined). It is projected to hold space enough for 100 cars, one for each room above.
  • The hotel itself, with eating and retail establishments on the ground floor and guest rooms above, will also have an outdoor pool accessible from the second floor. 

 

The finished product hopes to manifest the grandeur of the original historical structure alongside its modern amenities, all of this just steps from the bustling boardwalk that a portion of the hotel will front. 

Belmont Arena Project Bringing Hockey Back to Long Island

Early August, the state of New York signed on the dotted line to approve the proposed Belmont Arena project, which could construct a stadium and more, to be the new home for the New York Islanders hockey team. The franchise, without a home for nearly a decade, should have a permanent residence when the $1.3 billion project finishes up in 2021, much to the delight of locals and fans.

What Is Still to Come Before Ground Is Broken?

With state approval out of the way, it’s not quite time to break out the shovels and bulldozers. This is just the first, very important step, so as yet there is no definite start date. Future steps include:

  • An environmental impact survey will hopefully put local worries to rest about how the project will affect the surrounding area as it’s being built and once it’s completed.
  • The project needs approval by the Franchise Oversight Board.
  • Any further objections and potential lawsuits will need to be addressed.

 

All of these will need to come to pass before a groundbreaking ceremony.

How Is the Belmont Arena Likely to Change the Area?

This new development will unfold over the 43 acres of vacant, government-owned Belmont Park. Behind the project are several groups: team owners New York Arena Partners,Oak View Group, and Sterling Project Development. The finished product is to include:

  • The Arena. With the capacity for 19,000 people, this will be the new home of the New York Islanders. Where once they shared games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum, they will have an established place with room enough for all their fans during home games, at true home games. 
  • The Hotel Space. Alongside a bustling arena, there will also be a projected 250-room hotel to house teams and visitors to the area. 
  • The Commercial Space. The finished project will include 350,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and parking space, helping to transform the area into a full entertainment complex further.

 

In all, the project is predicted to create around 3,500 jobs, according to developers, who also promise at least 30 percent of those will go to locals within a 4-mile radius.

Macys to Build Commercial Giant Atop Iconic Herald Square Store

There are few better ways to draw attention to your office than the knowledge that it’s above not just Macy’s but the Macy’s. The Herald Square location, while hardly the only Macy’s store in the New York metro area, is one of the largest department stores in the nation and also the flagship of the entire franchise, practically a landmark in its own right. Given its long history and the particular facade it cuts into the New York cityscape, people were surprised to hear CEO Jeff Gennette announce the intention to expand upward into a full skyscraper. It is another, familiar step in the multi-use direction that many a facet of the evolving metropolitan has begun to adopt. 

What is the Current Status of the Project?

At present, the project is still in its infancy, so the details on what’s to come are sparse but still encouraging to developers and commercial properties chomping at the bit for a prime headquarters location. A few of the highlights include:

  • 1.2 million square feet of space that will become available for rent. 
  • The current plan is to zone the floors of the skyscraper for commercial and office use. The potential for drawing revenue from the real estate aspect alone has been a key focus in recent discussions of the project. 
  • The proposed office tower will bring in an estimated additional 6,000 people to the area, and some think it will be a hopeful boost to the Macy’s brand at a time when department stores are not doing so well financially
  • The present hope is to have an outline thoroughly planned and approved by the end of 2019, and then bidding from designers and developers can begin. 

Can a Skyscraper Safely Be Built Atop the 118-Year-Old Department Store? 

There comes the question of whether or not it is safe or feasible to easily construct a skyscraper atop the historic Macy’s site, built in 1901. Will the scaffolding around the building be possible to construct? Will this force the store to close its doors during construction, and for how long? According to Jeffrey Roseman, vice chairman and co-founder of the commercial real estate firms Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, these are minimal worries, and he has nodded to similar undertakings with positive results. 

He particularly noted the One Vanderbilt project helmed by SL Green, which will soon complete a new, 1.7 million square-foot tower. It is being built in very close proximity to the midtown Grand Central Terminal, and is doing so very “uneventfully,” he says, with little or no issue in terms of construction and planning. It did, however, meet some backlash from the owners of the GST over development rights. 

People can see other places where projects around and atop historic landmarks are underway, and some have their own unique challenges to overcome. It was earlier reported that the historic Palace Theatre would be lifted 30 feet above its current, ground-level spot, as part of the Broadway TSX complex development. It is a wildly different endeavor than the one planned for Herald Square, but one cannot overlook the comparison, given the two buildings’ similar ages and historical significance. 

New Yorkers have yet to see what specific hurdles the Macy’s project will hold in its future for architects and tradespersons. Herald Square differs from the above two projects in at least two major aspects: The size of the Macy’s department store sits far above and beyond that of the Palace Theatre, and the skyscraper will not sit near Macy’s as One Vanderbilt does to Grand Central; it will be directly on top of Macy’s. Once ground breaks, it may be like nothing New York construction has seen.

Manhasset Square Redevelopment Brings Additional Solutions to Long Island Housing Crisis

It was announced earlier this year that Brookfield Developments would be helming a $400 million reworking of the Macy’s parking lot off of Northern Boulevard. The project, called Manhasset Square, will cover 16 acres of land and transform it into a multi-use property to feature housing, offices, and retail space. 

 

This project has generated some local concerns, as the North Hempstead area of Long Island has no apartments, dominated largely by single-family homes. Critics have asked how this would affect traffic and school routes. However, Brookfield Developments and the local government seem to be confident in the positive boosts the project hopes to bring to the area. 

How Would Housing at Manhasset Improve the Area? 

Supporters of the Manhasset Square project have seen and heard the concerns, but the positive, to them, far outweighs the potential drawbacks.

  • Affordable, Manageable Housing. As the Island Now sees it, developments like Manhasset Square means rentals that local villagers can afford. Homeownership is a nearly impossible dream for many now, for a number of reasons, and there are many residents in the Long Island area who have no desire to leave the community they love but revile the expenses. Young people, the elderly, and empty-nesters may benefit from housing options that don’t include sizeable property taxes and more property than they would care to (or afford to) maintain. 
  • Increased Area Revenue. With a hotel, dining, retail, and office spaces included in the mix and many bids already to fill them, this development promises an economic boost for the area in the form of new jobs and tax revenue, plus shopping opportunities within easy reach.

What Will It Take to Finish This Redevelopment?

As of May 2019, Brookfield Developments is still seeking the zoning rights for the property, which currently allows for retail, office, and hotel space, but not residential space. 

 

When this is secured and ground is broken, tradespeople can look forward to opportunities in building on:

  • 355 luxury apartments. With predominantly studio and one-bedroom options, with some two and three-bedroom apartments as well, there are options for single and dual occupants as well as families. The specification of “luxury” implies not only the use of quality materials but also upgrades and amenities that will need to be accounted for in construction. 
  • 200-unit boutique-style hotel. With no shortage of tourism opportunities in the New York metro area, there will always be a need for accommodations. “Boutique” here suggests high-end living with, again, amenities, and this could include unique selling points from spas to special classes for guests, all of which will need unique spaces.
  • Office and Retail Spaces. With similar construction needs, these parts of Manhasset Square will afford people the opportunity to run all their errands within the area of Macy’s. There will be a similar demand for open floor space and storage, with some calling for unique architecture that conforms to a brand image. 
  • Dining. Visitors can finish their shopping with a quick bite or an intimate meal, depending upon what goes in. Formal and casual restaurant spaces need places to put the customers but also kitchens unique to what will be found in residences. Specific franchises will likely opt in to many of the spaces, and each of them tends to have unique facilities to construct. 
  • 2,271 parking spaces. New locations to visit means the roads to get there and the places to park. Presently, the intent is to construct parking both above and below ground, which in itself calls for special considerations a single-level parking structure would not need, including strong foundational support. 

 

With these, plus landscaping, wiring, plumbing, and other considerations across the board, there will be work to go around. For now, all there is left is to wait for all the signatures on the dotted line, and then Manhasset Square will be well on its way. 

 

With Steady Decline in Architecture Business Billings, Tariffs Exacerbate Growing Problem

In June of 2019, the Architecture Billings Index reported a negative in design deals as well as new project inquiries, the latter of which reached a decade low. This is concerning news following an earlier report in 2018 that stated a decline aside optimistic gains in job growth. The ABI, a reputable source in tracking economic growth for commercial and industrial developments, further reports that billings remain on the downturn in all regions save the south, which continues to see growth, up 1.9 points compared to the previous month’s growth. 

The news for firms in the New York metro area is far less positive, with the northeast region on a 3.9-point decrease from the previous month’s reporting. Sources report a generous backlog of projects, experts have expressed concern that a surplus may quickly whittle down to a deficit. While multiple causes may contribute to this disturbing trend, many are nodding to the pressures brought on by tariffs on China and other nations as only making the problem worse. 

What’s Going on with the Backlog?

In May, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc’s construction backlog indicator showed a near 9-month backlog of upcoming projects nationwide. That said, ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu also indicated the following: 

  • Rises in the cost of materials and labor were still present. 
  • Declines in infrastructure-related jobs were reported as well, though he indicated this might be the result of a statistical anomaly. 
  • Spending has continued and, he reports, should continue through several more quarters. 

The concern, however, is with the slow in new projects and proposals to add to the backlog, and how many of those new projects are coming to the state of New York. With multiple sources reporting declines since the turn of the year, what appears to be the trend in the national region holds true in the Big Apple and all the boroughs as well.

 

The Bronx Point Complex: Music History and Affordable Housing

Set to complete in 2023, a waterfront site in the South Bronx is, for now, the home of an ongoing project that shall evolve into a center for entertainment with promises for housing, jobs, and more. Sitting near the 145th street bridge that connects the borough to Manhattan, Bronx Point will come together under the leadership of L+M Management, bringing a reputation of outreach and building excellence. 

 

The Real Deal reports that the company, which successfully bid back in 2017 for the project with a projected budget of $200 million to finish, is already known for community-broadening projects such as converting a navy prison into affordable housing in Brooklyn and the Seward Park redevelopment. 

What Facilities Will the Development Include?

While many headlines have made a point to highlight the construction of the Universal Hip Hop Museum as a notable feature, the Bronx Point’s mixed-use plan means it is offering not only this but also much more. With the project moving in two phases, phase one will provide: 

  • The Universal Hip Hop Museum will break ground in winter of this year and has creative minds behind its development like LL Cool J and the first Hip Hop artist to be signed to a label, Blow, who is also the museum’s co-chairman. It seeks to bring the borough’s rich music history to the forefront for locals and tourists alike. 
  • Low-to-moderate income residential units to include the first half of the proposed final amount (600 of 1045) will expand an ongoing affordable housing initiative in the New York metro area. 
  • A multiplex theatre will offer further entertainment beyond the sights and sounds of the museum. 
  • Outdoor event space for live performances of any genre. 
  • Additional outdoor spaces such as a plaza near Exeter Street, and a 2.3-acre esplanade that follows the river and expands Mill Pond Park. 

Phase 2 of the Bronx Point development will finish the remaining residential spaces and add new commercial and community spaces. Further details are to be released when there is a set start date. 

What Kinds of Construction Jobs Will This Project Produce?

Under L+M Management, the first phase of Bronx Point is ready to take shape, and it will take tireless and creative hands to make that happen. 

  • On the museum side, with a facility hoping to include live performances, interactive exhibits, workshops, and more, contractors of all stripes will be called in to raise the walls that can house these diverse activities and displays. 
  • For housing, the units planned will need to be reasonably affordable to anyone seeking a place to lay their heads. Bedrooms, bathrooms, elevators, and private and communal living spaces all offer their unique challenges. 
  • A multiplex calls for space for tall screens, projecting equipment, washroom facilities, concessions, office space, and more. 
  • Outdoor event space needs ample sitting and standing space, a functional stage, and the means to operate a multitude of electronic equipment. 
  • Finally, the rest of the outdoor spaces will include walking and green space, lighting, and other facilities that will be both unique to the complex but seamlessly merge where needed with nearby locations, all to be designed and built. 

At their completion, there is another remaining phase, with still more jobs on the horizon for constructing new, unique facilities to distinguish the site further.

Ronkonkoma Vision Project Only Beginning to Take Shape

From parking spots for commuters to bustling sports and convention space, the Ronkonkoma Vision project’s grand plans are only beginning to mature in the 86-acre property between MacArthur Airport and the Long Island railroad station. 

 

The $1.1 billion project promises a huge boost in both temporary construction jobs and permanent positions as the complex is completed, with the planning stages in motion since at least 2013. Locals hope that the project brings a boost in tourism, sporting events, and more to this corner of the metropolitan area. However, with no projected completion date in sight as of July 2019, what does it spell out for the more immediate future? 

What Amenities Does the Ronkonkoma Vision Project Hope to Bring?

With the draw of local and visiting athletic teams, business sponsorships, and more, all at the center of that crucial commute between plane and train, the finished Ronkonkoma project began with more extensive plans than those that were ultimately finalized. 

 

The proposed sports stadium, the crown jewel of the complex, once promised a mindblowing 17,500-seat capacity. Developers have reduced this number by half and are looking to attract a minor-league hockey team to make their home there. But what else is coming?

 

  • The main arena. The 7,500-seat arena hopes to host multiple entertainment events like concerts as well as hockey and lacrosse. 
  • The outdoor stadium. At a smaller 6,000-seats, this venue will be home to soccer and lacrosse events.
  • Three public practice fields. Not playing for a league? No problem. For professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs alike, the Ronkonkoma complex invites anyone to come to play and practice. 
  • Hotel space. A 300-key convention hotel will sit on the complex to house visiting teams, tourists, and any other event attendees.
  • Convention center. With more than just sports to offer the brave and the curious, the convention center can host virtually any manner of event that area is not built for. 
  • Retail Spaces. With commuters, out-of-state visitors, and locals to attract, shopping space is not only necessary; it’s practically mandatory. 
  • Class A Office Space. With a preference to medical and research institutions, these will be centrally located with easy access, in a spacious and quality infrastructure. 

What Does This Mean for Construction Jobs?

Once ground is broken, the breadth and scope of this project gives an “all hands on deck” sort of feel. Virtually every manner of construction, engineering, and landscaping will be needed to finish the Ronkonkoma Vision project. Short of permanent residential areas and a second airport, almost every kind of urban establishment imaginable is going into the blueprint. Following a trend in New York construction of late, many of the spaces outlined will have multifunctional vertical spaces, with different establishments on multiple floors. Tenants in the upper part of the convention center hotel can take a short elevator ride to their event or shopping down on the ground floor, for instance. Developers and tradespeople can look for a number of upcoming projects to include: 

 

  • Class A office structures. Because these buildings will command high rent from quality occupants, they will be expected to come together using the highest quality materials and building conventions, assembled and made whole by masters in their craft. 
  • Multiple, diverse entertainment venues. The main arena itself will need to hold the population of a small town, at its feet, cheering for their team, but steel beams are just the start, and the complex will be home to fields of green, ice, and more. 
  • Modern, comfortable hotel space. Beyond even just the rooms, amenities and facilities will need to be accessible and welcoming to the widest possible customer base. 

 

All of these and more will each have their own unique challenges. The demands of a functional office, arena, and hotel rooms can be as different from each other as night and day. These all call for not just structure, but electrical, plumbing, landscaping, and roads and walkways to navigate them.

 

Room for Moving Up: Times Square’s Palace Theatre to Receive a Facelift, Other Developments

The trend in urban revitalization through multi-functional spaces continues its spread in New York City, where significant updates to popular venues in Times Square continue to unfold. Where locals continue to agree that a downtown area must leave ample options for living, working, shopping, and playing within a few steps of each other, it is clear that the beloved bowtie of NYC proper is more than happy to take the lead with the ever-advancing TSX Broadway development. 

TSXB promises to be an “experiential” shopping, entertainment, and residential experience, offering 46 floors of modern amenities, prime advertising and retail space, and the protection and preservation of a historic landmark. It includes the area in and around the famous Palace Theatre, which shut its doors in late 2018 to begin a long renovation process. 

What Changes Are Coming to the Palace Theatre?

A venue that has been home to the Vaudeville greats, high-profile film premieres like RKO’s Citizen Kane, and numerous Broadway stage productions, the 1700-seat Palace Theatre closed its 2018 season with the promise to return in the early 2020’s. Its redevelopment is part of a larger project affecting the whole area, but its most surprising change will be its location: 30 feet above its present spot, part of a $2.4 billion project approved by NYC City Council June of last year. Here, there are multiple aims:

  • New Space. The elevation of the theatre will create around 10,000 square feet of retail space for street-level customers. This likely will include the need for multiple separate units for a diverse shopping experience, mechanical space, bathroom facilities, and more.
  • A Landmark, Preserved. Developers L&L Holding Co., Maefield Development, and Fortress Investment Group are dedicated not only to bringing the area into the electrical future, but also meticulously restoring and preserving every detail of this popular location. Workers with expertise in preservation and restoration may have a monumental project on their hands, with everything from facades, statuary, seating, and detailing needing to look their authentic best. 

What Other Changes Are Coming with the Redevelopment? 

Aside from treating a grand old lady like the Palace Theatre like the queen she is, TSX Broadway promises several new additions to Times Square to keep locals and tourists close and comfortable. All of these changes will call for a variety of construction types and trades to complete. 

  • A Memorable Trip. Popular among NYC retailers is the offering of an “experience” rather than a mere shopping trip, and TSX Broadway is embracing this in all its spaces. With other popular stores offering meditation sessions to draw shoppers, or displays to attract Instagram influencers, the entire TSX complex hopes to play off of a similar vibe. Developers are challenged to create a structure that facilitates this that includes edgy, unique modern architecture that can blend seamlessly with the Palace Theatre’s classical charm. 
  • Out with the Old. Among other changes, this requires the demolition of the Doubletree hotel that currently sits atop the Palace Theatre, in itself an enormous project, especially since everything under the Doubletree must remain intact. The removal and further updates to the property will pave the way for the building of new, 669-room luxury hotel with every amenity (an update from Doubletree’s 612-room offering).
  • Outdoor Entertainment. TSX Broadway’s completion will come with the installation of Times Square’s only permanent outdoor stage, adding a new, established venue for year-round entertainment. It will call for a structure fit to hold a sizeable partying crowd and fixtures for state-of-the-art equipment. 
  • The Most Valuable Signage. When it comes to drawing tourists, locals, and influencers of every stripe, for once—it’s all about what’s on the outside. Times Square’s billboards and screens are an integral part of its character, with recent updates from neon to LED and video dominating your view as you look up from the street. TSX Broadway will be no different, refitting its outdoor space with an 18,000 square-foot wrap-around sign with video and streaming capabilities. With video advertising space in Times Square bringing in as much as $12 million a year on much smaller screens and with the TSX project’s signage breaking records for the area, the construction of such a giant will be a massive undertaking in itself. 

With a mixture of modern amenities and the charm of New York’s colorful entertainment history, perfectly preserved, the TSX Broadway development may change the landscape. For now, with opening day still a couple of years away at least, the mountain of jobs it leaves for passionate developers and tradespeople are innumerable.

Rikers Island’s Closure and What Comes After

Established in 1932, the sprawling facilities at Rikers Island span over 400 acres of land between Queens and the Bronx, averaging a daily population of 10,000 inmates. The average annual cost to New York City taxpayers to house one person there for a year is over $200,000. Its reputation includes a litany of abuse allegations and sits at the center of many heated debates across the state of New York regarding the faults of the prison industrial complex.

In June of 2017, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the intention to close the sprawling prison complex within the next ten years, once its inmate population is reduced to a manageable 5,000, but what comes after? For the island itself, there are no apparent discussions regarding what the empty space will become, but the countdown still has another eight years if other circumstances do not force the prison’s closure at an earlier date. Developers and lawmakers alike may speculate until then. As for what replaces Rikers Island’s operations, De Blasio’s plan keeps the matter small but local.

What Is Replacing Rikers Island, and What Does This Mean for Many NYC Boroughs?

The current intention, once Rikers Island closes its doors, is to turn its hundreds of acres of penal sprawl into smaller, separate facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. As of June 2019, we know that these new facilities will serve as “civic assets.” The City of New York wants each borough to benefit from the building and running of these new jails, and it hopes to accomplish this through multiple intended features and plans:

  • Borough-based jails would keep detainees close to home. This gives them easier access to support systems by reducing commute time and cost for lawyers, family, advocates, and more.  
  • The jails are intended to integrate with the local architecture and community. For example, the plans for the Brooklyn location would house inmates and staff, as well as space for programming and recreation on the upper floors, with the ground floor open for local businesses and commerce. Therefore, space remains for local communities to continue to benefit from the location.
  • These facilities are smaller and easier to manage. Rikers will close when the population is reduced to a max of 5,000 inmates, and these will be divided among four locations. Smaller populations require fewer staff and facilities to run, especially measured against Rikers’ current, gargantuan staff that currently rivals the number of inmates in number. 

Another key trait to each of these jails will be that the city wishes for each design to benefit their location specifically. A jail for Brooklyn will provide what the community there most calls for: a layout that serves the needs of inmates and civilians alike, but the Manhattan location may take a completely different form. Today, New York City looks to determine more definitively what each borough needs through local construction firms and other community experts. 

Want to Be Part of the Solution? NYC Issues an RFI.

The City of New York has released a request for information, or RFI. They want to engage with local industry experts, especially construction companies, in determining the needs of each community, and they need input from the people who know them and have had a hand in building them. Their goal is to be the “owner of choice for design-build firms,” they say, and they are looking for those that have experience in developing and handling these larger, more complex projects. 

From firms like yours, they want to hear what will bring these plans to fruition efficiently, on time, and on budget, without sacrificing safety or quality. 

Firms and individual parties that would like to answer the RFI, or would like more information on the individual projects, please call CIS 800-247-1727 or email us at info@cisleads.com.

 

Gov. Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Helps Long Island Residents

For the fourth year in a row, communities all over the state of New York have been submitting applications for grants through a program helmed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, aimed at updating and improving downtown areas to boost local economies. While sources report that applications are down from the previous year (dropping to 94 from 105), among those applicants are 17 downtown areas on Long Island, down from a record 23 applications the year before. That’s 30 communities so far that have benefitted from a much-needed economic boost, with another 10 soon to join them, with promising projects for those in the construction business to follow.

What Is the Downtown Revitalization Initiative?

Cuomo unveiled the DRI in 2016, proposing a program that would stimulate downtown areas across the state. Its aim would ultimately be to invest in grants (this year, $100 million) that are split between each of New York’s ten regions. This year, the total in grants to be offered is $100 million, adding up to $10 million per recommended application. Recommendations will come down from each of the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs). This year, the due date for final recommendation is July 12.

 

All 10 of New York’s REDCs have nominated their applicants based on several factors that determine the downtown area’s “potential for transformation” including:

 

  • How compact the downtown area is;
  • Potential for future job growth;
  • Location with regard to housing areas; and
  • Their proposed strategy for development.

What Does Downtown Revitalization Mean for Jobs?

Part of Gov. Cuomo’s aim in the initiative is to reawaken urban centers that need it. It means taking disused, historic buildings and repurposing them for both residential and commercial use—even a mix of the two, in some cases. It’s about turning these places into bustling city centers where people want to live, work, and entertain themselves. Depending upon the community, this could call for:

 

  • Updating pavement, walking areas, and green spaces;
  • Updating roads to improve the flow of traffic; and
  • Renovating existing structures for active use by businesses and residents.

 

The possibility of building wholly new structures might not be in the cards. However, in a community chosen for one of these grants, every job that a tradesperson could fill may be called for—in the next year. These projects are ongoing; for instance, Downtown Central Islip, the LI recipient of a 2018 DRI grant, only held their final community workshop on their plan of action back in March.

What Are Communities Doing with Their Grants?

Each community that seeks a nomination must include in their application what they plan to do with the grant. In this way, we can see where that money goes and what potential projects this could create in their proposals and what recipients have done since the DRI’s inception in 2016. For example:

 

  • The village of Westbury was the first Long Island community to receive the grant. Among their proposed projects included transit-oriented, rezoning near the LIRR Station, improving and updating their recreation center, updates to their roadways and pedestrian areas, and installing a permanent space for arts and events.
  • New Rochelle, Westchester County recipient in round three, included plans to create accessible improvements on existing park spaces, bolster mixed-income residential areas to provide housing at multiple levels of affordability, and develop more mixed-use spaces to seamlessly blend residential, commercial, and community spaces for easy access.
  • Rockville Centre, one of this year’s applicants, is proposing the installation of a new bike path (including lockers for storing bikes and gear), new green spaces, a teen recreation center, and needed updates and improvements on local infrastructure.

 

Statewide grants help improve the quality of life for its residents. From infrastructure improvements to more streetlights, the small changes to each part of the state help. Receiving a grant helps offset the costs for the community as well, and enables construction companies to help more communities improve.