Public planning meeting scheduled for Schenectady DRI

First gathering scheduled for Dec. 17
State Street in downtown Schenectady is pictured in August.
State Street in downtown Schenectady is pictured in August.

SCHENECTADY — Members of a new panel tasked with guiding the state’s $10 million economic development grant process are scheduled to meet next week for their first meeting.

Members of the soon-to-be announced group will meet Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at SUNY Schenectady in the Elston Hall Lally Mohawk Room.

The group, known as the “Local Planning Committee” (LPC), will contain local and regional leaders, business officials, community representatives and others, and will operate with state oversight. 

The announcement by the mayor’s office on Tuesday comes days after Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority, which is acting as Schenectady DRI’s lead administrator, launched a website to solicit community feedback.

Schenectady beat out four other Capital Region locales — Castleton on Hudson, Rensselaer, Tannersville and Troy — for the pot of funds, which has allocated $100 million statewide annually since 2016 as part of the state’s strategy to galvanize downtown investment. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at Proctors last month. 

The funding will allow the city to accelerate long-planned connector projects designed to integrate downtown with Mohawk Harbor and Erie Boulevard, which is also poised for improvements along the corridor. 

Big ticket construction projects described as “shovel-ready” by state officials include a dock at Mohawk Harbor and the proposed Capital Region Aquatic Center, a $30 million project located at the same riverfront complex.

Schenectady’s DRI application also contains a concept for a 100,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex to be located between Rivers Casino & Resort and the marina bordering the riverfront. 

Numerous other projects have been flagged as possible funding recipients, Those include unspecified developments behind Proctors and along Clinton Street, as well as a proposed mixed-use project on Erie Boulevard at the site of a former restaurant and Sears buildings spearheaded by the same developers behind the Electric City Apartments. 

None of the projects are finalized and serve more of a wish list by developers and local officials.

Each will be further vetted by both the community and the state during the plan development process, and still other projects may arise during the public engagement period. 

The state encourages municipalities to leverage investment dollars from other sources.

Jeff Buell, principal of Redburn Development Partners, previously estimated the award will leverage a couple hundred million dollars in economic development. 

State officials have said public engagement is key: A minimum of three public meetings or workshops are required, but the state Department of State encourages organizers to “consistently engage the public throughout the planning process beyond the three meetings.”

Each LPC is led by two co-chairs consisting of the local elected official, or their designee, and a member of the Regional Economic Development Council. 

While the group will meet Dec. 17, it appears the panel remains unsettled. 

Metroplex Chairman Ray Gillen said names will be announced after the state finalizes its membership. 

An official with the state Department of State said on Tuesday they are “working closely” with the city on developing the LPC.

Of the 10 cities selected for DRI awards for the fourth round of recipients this summer, eight cities have formed their LPCs, according to the state agency. 

“We expect all LPCs to be finalized soon,” said a spokesperson. 

That group will be supported by a team of private sector experts, state planners and a state-hired consultant team. 

While there is no prescribed meeting schedule, the state anticipates that the body will hold in-person meetings at least monthly throughout the process.

Schenectady DRI was also required to complete a downtown profile and assessment and DRI goals by late-November. 

Upcoming project milestones include: 

  • December 2019: Completion of strategies to implement DRI goals.
  • January 2020: Submission of draft project profiles.
  • March 2020: Submission of Strategic Investment Plan with profiles of projects recommended for funding.

Members of the public are invited to attend the Dec. 17 event, and pre-event registration is not required.

There will be time at the end of the meeting for public comment. 

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

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