The city of Gloversville was named the recipient of the 5th annual New York state $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative for the Mohawk Valley Region on Thursday.
The economic development grant will provide funding for a list of downtown economic development projects such as a multi-million-dollar restoration of the Glove Theatre, approximately $1 million towards the proposed $20 million Glove City Lofts artist housing project, as well as funding for a Downtown Business Fund and any of more than a dozen potential projects.
Gloversville had applied for each of the first four rounds of New York state’s signature economic development contest in the years from 2016 to 2019. The program was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this year the state made up for it by offering the $10 million to two different downtown areas in the Mohawk Valley, the other $10 million grant going to the city of Little Falls in Herkimer County.
Big check presented
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton presented Gloversville Mayor Vince DeSantis with an oversized symbolic $10 million check Thursday during the announcement ceremony held at the Glove Theatre.
“I understand this was the fifth time that Gloversville submitted a DRI application, but Gloversville did not give up, Gloversville persisted. It pushed forward, and it got it done,” Stratton said. “You need to be very, very proud of yourselves. I’ve heard it said the third time is the charm, but if it takes five times, it takes five times, and it was worth, worth, worth, worth, worth the wait!”
Gloversville and Little Falls now joins Oneonta, Rome, the city of Amsterdam and Utica, the winners of the first four DRI rounds for the Mohawk Valley Region.
Stratton said he’s been to Gloversville many times in the past, sometimes bearing more minor gifts like calendars, hand sanitizer, matchbooks or “other tchotchke,” but on Thursday he said he knew he was bringing something big.
“The DRI is going to help transform Gloversville,” Stratton said. “Gov. Kathy Hochul has doubled down on the amazing DRI program, awarding twice as many grants as the previous four rounds, up to $200 million being awarded this year to communities across the state.”
DeSantis said when Gloversville submitted its application for the first $10 million DRI contest in 2016 it had to be hastily thrown together and contained few viable economic development projects. He said since then the city has worked with its grant writer Nick Zabowski to obtain about $8 million worth of state and federal grants to help move the city forward on a range of economic development issues including demolishing dangerous and abandoned buildings, creating a Brownfield Opportunity Area and a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.
DeSantis said Gloversville has grown stronger with each of its five applications for the $10 million DRI grant and is now poised for major transformational change.
“I am so grateful we were not awarded this prize in 2016, because back then we weren’t ready for it,” DeSantis said. “Within the next few years we have the wherewithal, and we’re in a position now to actually transform our entire city from a former industrial powerhouse to a 21st century vibrant, creative, growing community, and so it means so much more to us now.”
Gloversville will now begin the process of using $300,000 from the $10 million DRI grant to develop a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown. DeSantis will appoint a “Local Planning Committee” made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders supported by a team of private sector consultants and New York state economic development professionals.
“The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation,” reads a news release from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office. “The Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community’s vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state’s $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI’s fifth round will be complete in 2022.”
Gloversville has hired Elan Planning & Design, of Saratoga Springs, to act as the private sector consulting firm to help with the Strategic Investment Plan. Lisa Nagle, a founding member of Elan Planning, has already been working with the city since 2019 on its Local Waterfront Revitalization plan and its Brownfield Opportunity Area plan.
“This is pretty much a full-time job for us until May,” Nagle said. “We helped write the application for this, to win it, and we just completed the city of Utica’s [awarded in 2019 $10 million DRI] plan, and previously we worked on the city of Watertown’s [DRI] plan.”
Nagle said the Local Planning Committee will work with members of the community to put together a list of probably around 20 potential economic development projects for Gloversville’s downtown, building off the initial list of 18 submitted in the successful DRI application.
After that, three state agencies will be involved in the final selection of which projects get funded and with how much money:
- The New York state Dept. of State
- The Empire State Development Corp
- New York State Homes and Community Renewal
“Once we have the Local Planning Committee in place, we’ll likely start in January,” Nagle said. “My understanding is it will be a five- to six-month process to prepare the plan, and the state will review the plan and identify which projects will get the funding.”
James Hannahs, Gloversville’s Downtown Development Specialist, said he will fulfill a role in Gloversville’s DRI process similar to the one performed by Amanda Bearcroft, the city of Amsterdam’s director of community and economic development.
DeSantis praised Hannahs for his involvement in the successful DRI application. Hannahs spoke last among the officials at the announcement Thursday.
“Everyone in this room, and beyond, worked to make today’s announcement possible, to invest in this community to keep it alive beyond all odds,” he said. “Now we have work to do, and a lot of it, but it’s our turn. It’s finally our turn to build the future of Gloversville.”