New $100 million program will invigorate smaller downtowns

New York Construction Report staff writer

NY Forward, a new initiative aimed at rejuvenating smaller and rural downtowns will provide $100 million to approved projects.

Also, Round 6 of the state’s successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative was announced this week in Jamaica, Queens at the ribbon-cutting for Greater Nexus, a brand-new $11 million coworking space funded through Jamaica’s previous DRI award and operated by Greater Jamaica Development Corporation in partnership with York College.

“New York’s downtowns are the heart and soul of our communities and regions, and today we’re taking comprehensive action to support them,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative has ignited a renaissance in these spaces, which are critical to the continued growth of businesses and local economies, and I am proud to support this vital program.

“As we grow our downtowns, we are proud to launch a new program — NY Forward — that will provide crucial support to New York’s smaller and rural communities to help bring them back to the bustling towns and villages they once were.”

DRI was launched in 2016 to accelerate and bolster the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for increased local investments. Led by the Department of State (DOS) with assistance from the Department of Housing and Community Renewal (HCR), Empire State Development (ESD) and the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), DRI is describe as a “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation.

A new component added this year allows two or three communities to apply jointly for one award. To date, DRI has awarded a total of $600 million to 59 communities in its first five rounds.

NY Forward is meant serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a feel and charm that is distinct from larger, metropolitan urban centers funded through DRI.

Capacity-building workshops and technical assistance will be provided to communities and there are two funding options for each region—two $4.5 million awards; or one $4.5 million grant and two $2.25 million grants.

Applications for NY Forward will launch later this month and winners are expected to be selected later this year.

The Greater Nexus coworking space was supported by a $1,650,000 Empire State Development capital grant, recommended by the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, and a $685,230 Homes and Community Renewal grant. Additional funding was provided by the Deutsche Bank Foundation and National Grid and New Market Tax Credits through NYCEDC and Capital One Bank. The Greater Nexus coworking space will be operated by Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

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