ALBANY – Since 2016, New York has set aside $400 million for its Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) — a program aimed at rejuvenating blighted communities in the hopes of sparking economic activity and attracting new residents.
Forty communities have each received a $10 million grant under the program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly touted as “transformative” while traveling across the state to announce the grants in person. Utica was the recipient of a $10 million grant in early November. Rome received its $10 million in 2017.
Utica’s DRI application focused on the Genesee Street corridor between Broad Street and the traffic circle at State and Oneida streets. Cuomo liked the city’s application because it tied into other redevelopment initiatives such as those in the brewery district and near the Adirondack Bank Center.
The award was given to Rome because the city’s application featured projects Gov. Andrew Cuomo believed would bring in young professionals — a goal of the initiative.
The state’s program, however, has been slow in developing.
A review by USA TODAY Network New York found most of the money that lawmakers have committed to the program in the last four years has yet to be disbursed — and construction on just over a dozen projects has actually been completed.
About 140 projects have received funding in the program’s first two years, but only 14 have been completed totaling $15.6 million, according to state data.
Construction on dozens more projects will be wrapped in the months ahead while state and local officials work towards completing plans and acquiring key permits needed to advance the work.
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