Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced 15 transformational projects for Amsterdam as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award. The strategic investments in downtown Amsterdam will enhance several initiatives including Riverlink Park, the waterfront, the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook, community gathering spaces, new businesses and restaurants along Bridge Street, among others.
“The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is turning downtown neighborhoods across the state into vibrant communities where New Yorkers want to live, work and raise families,” Cuomo said in a statement. “These targeted investments in Amsterdam will bring new recreational options, economic development and community services to the region and help drive the local economy forward.”
“The City of Amsterdam was once booming with industrial manufacturers, but experienced a decline in the industry like many upstate cities decades ago,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “This significant investment in economic development projects will help Amsterdam continue its revitalization with mixed-use development to enhance quality of life. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is providing communities with the funding they need to attract businesses and grow their economies.”
Amsterdam was named a DRI Round 3 winner in September 2018. The focus of the Amsterdam DRI spans the Mohawk River to encompass a segment of the historic downtown as well as new downtown areas that have emerged as the city continues to grow and evolve. With a range of mixed-use residential and commercial spaces, an assisted living facility, established businesses, and many park and recreation amenities, the area is poised to attract additional investment to its developable land and available buildings.
Projects to be funded through the DRI include:
Strengthen the Chuctanunda Creek Trail’s Downtown Presence: Install enhanced signage, lighting, and safety measures along the downtown stretch of the Chuctanunda Creek Trail to enable the district to serve as a tourist and recreation destination, and to facilitate access to broader trail systems and amenities. ($288,728)
Transform the Southside into a Vibrant, Walkable Community: Implement public realm improvements to encourage pedestrian activity along Bridge Street and connect the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge to Southside’s emerging shopping and restaurant scene. The project includes the creation of a boardwalk, and improvements to the sidewalks, streetscape, and civic spaces adjacent to the Chalmers Mills Lofts. ($312,785)
Construct a Waterfront Entertainment Destination: Provide a new dock, boat lifts, and storage to a waterski show business relocating to the Amsterdam waterfront, where it will strengthen the area’s tourist attraction in the summer and serve as a catalyst for future investment. ($60,000)
Transform a Portion of Highway into a Public Open Space: Remove and re-purpose the eastbound portion of NYS Route 5 as public open space, providing residents with recreation opportunities and laying the groundwork for the development of the proposed recreation center. DRI funding will be used for temporary barriers, signage, striping, and the removal of asphalt and paving. ($547,087)
Create a Gateway to the Downtown District: Create an attractive and defined gateway at the intersection of Church Street and East Main Street to provide a positive first impression of the city, render the intersection pedestrian-friendly, and attract visitors to patronize downtown businesses. The project will include public art, new lighting, landscape improvements, sidewalks, and new signage. ($1,000,000)
Create a Community Dog Park: Construct a fenced-in community dog park at 198-100 Erie Street to serve as a mid-block connector from the waterfront to the Empire State Trail, furthering the Southside’s transformation into a complete and connected neighborhood. As the first dog park in the city or county, this project is expected to be a local and regional recreation destination. ($323,400)
Relocate and Enhance the Amsterdam Skate Park: Relocate the Amsterdam Skate Park through the construction of an improved facility adjacent to the proposed community and recreation center at 143 East Main St. The new skate park will provide Amsterdam’s young people with a safe and inviting place to socialize and will accommodate and complement the development of the new recreation center. ($93,000)
Install Streetscape Improvements on Bridge and Main Streets: Transform the city’s two primary commercial streets, Bridge Street and East Main Street, into the signature components of a walkable, vibrant downtown environment, drawing residents and tourists to local businesses around the clock. Streetscape improvements include decorative lighting, sidewalk upgrades, landscaping, and street furniture. ($350,000)
Establish Design Guidelines to Create a Cohesive Downtown: Establish design guidelines to ensure new development and renovation projects preserve and enhance the downtown character, creating an aesthetically coordinated district and encouraging future investment. The guidelines will address façade improvements, signage regulations, lighting, landscaping, and beautification projects. ($50,000)
Establish a Downtown Improvement Fund: Establish a matching grant fund for interior and exterior building improvements within the DRI area to stimulate property upgrades and investments. The grant program will promote projects that include mixed-uses and that will create jobs and advance community revitalization goals. ($600,000)
Renovate and Expand the Amsterdam Free Library: Renovate and expand the Amsterdam Free Library to create a robust community center in the heart of the downtown district. The expanded library will include a new business incubator, STEM education facility, and multi-use community room complete with stage, screen, and sound and light equipment. ($1,800,000)
Create Community and Recreation Centers: Rehabilitate 149 East Main Street for use as a community center and construct a new adjacent recreation center to activate this underutilized part of downtown and transform East Main Street into a destination in its own right. The complex will include a computer lab, art gallery, shared kitchen, and facilities for reading, music, tutoring, recreation, painting, photography, and cinema. ($2,500,000)
Transform the Key Bank Building into a Mixed-Use Anchor: Rehabilitate and convert the historic former Key Bank building into a mixed-use development, transforming the local landmark into a beacon of revitalization, ensuring around-the-clock street activity on East Main Street, and drawing visitors to the downtown district. The project will include ground-floor commercial use and upper-story residential units overlooking the city’s downtown and waterfront. ($1,000,000)
Renovate the Samuel Sweet Canal Store: Transform the historic Samuel Sweet Canal Store into a tavern and gift shop to draw tourists and out-of-town patrons to the area and further strengthen the growing food and beverage scene on the Southside. This project will include the conversion of the second floor into a tavern, addition of public sewer and water hookups, installation of a new roof, and construction of a parking lot. ($275,000)
Amsterdam developed a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders led the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan for downtown Amsterdam examined local assets and opportunities and identified economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with the community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.