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.

You may also like

State’s Growing Budget Hole Threatens NYC Jobs and Aid as Congress Takes a Holiday

“The biggest problem for the state is the enormous, recurring structural budget gap starting next year and into the future,” said E.J. McMahon of the conservative-leaning Empire Center. “Cuomo clearly hopes that starting in 2021, (Democratic presidential candidate Joseph) Biden and a Democratic Congress will provide states and local government a couple of year’s worth of added stimulus. Read More

How Andrew Cuomo became ‘maybe the most powerful governor’ in U.S.

Ed McKinley ALBANY — When the New York Constitution was reorganized nearly 100 years ago to give the governor more power over the budget process,  noted there was a risk of making “the governor a czar." M Read More

Study disputes Cuomo on Trump tax package; experts say it’s complicated

Michael Gormley ALBANY — A new study by a conservative think tank says President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law gave most New Yorkers a tax cut, even as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo insists on repealing the measure because he says it will cost New Yo Read More

Empire Center sues Department of Health over nursing home records

Johan Sheridan ALBANY, N.Y. () — The Empire Center filed a  against the state Department of Health on Friday. “This case isn’t about assigning blame or embarrassing political leaders,” said Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s Read More

Good news: That New York pork isn’t going out the door after all

The Empire Center first reported Tuesday that grants — 226 of them, totaling $46 million, to recipients selected by the governor and individual state lawmakers — seemed to still be going ahead. Read More

New York Lawmakers Seek Independent Probe of Nursing-Home Coronavirus Deaths

With lingering questions about how the novel coronavirus killed thousands of New Yorkers who lived in nursing homes, a group of state lawmakers is pushing to create an independent commission to get answers from the state Department of Health. Read More

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

EDITORIAL: Nursing home report requires a second opinion

No doubt, the Health Department and the governor would like this report to be the final word on the subject. But if it’s all the same with them, we’d still like a truly independent review. Read More