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Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor discusses DRI application and other economic issues

Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman
Pat Bradley
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman

Plattsburgh plans to hold workshops on the town’s efforts to secure a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant from New York state. The town hopes to advance its Elevate Plattsburgh plan – a town center smart growth plan. In a conversation with WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley, Democratic Supervisor Michael Cashman explains what information they are seeking from the public:

The Town of Plattsburgh has always believed in community visioning and visions and plans need to reflect the times. So that's part of it. Also that there is a great opportunity in being able to use the space over at Senior Planet. We believe that our plans should always be multigenerational. There's also some new leadership that is now involved over at Champlain Centre Mall. So we continue to engage with various stakeholders. And the last portion that I would note is that the Town of Plattsburgh became the first within Clinton County, one of only five in the North Country and one of the first 20 Pro-Housing communities several months ago. And one of the benefits, in addition to the work that we do in the housing arena, is that we have an opportunity to get some preference in the granting program and the DRI is one of them. So we felt as though this was the appropriate time to re-engage.


So how does the DRI state grant mesh with Elevate Plattsburgh and the plans that you have? I mean, how would it help transform things because you were planning Elevate Plattsburgh before I think the DRI was even conceived?


Yeah and a lot of our communities that have applied and successfully secured DRI’s have done some very similar things, right. They've wanted to see communities that are much more multimodal, which we want. We want to see things that create some placemaking within the town center, which other communities have done with their DRI’s. But within our DRI application too, there are two particular themes that are that are really coming to the top which have always been priorities for us. But one is housing and the other is regional recreation. You know, we launched the developer's guide a little while back and one of the things that we committed ourselves to doing is not just have a document. Documents don't do much just to sit there and collect dust. We actively reached out to our community in the region to say what are the things that you're looking for? And one of them was recreation, you know, restaurants, etc. So we're trying to use all of our material to present the best case for elevating Plattsburgh. And that is an ongoing effort. And that's why we like Elevate Plattsburgh is because everything we do should be in an Excelsior type of attitude.


Michael Cashman, you mentioned Champlain Centres and the fact that they have been sold to Pacific Retail Capital Partners. That's a California-based management company. And in the release from Champlain Centres that they were under new management you were quoted that the firm's quote, strategic approach to enhancing the value and quality of properties aligns with our vision for growth and innovation, unquote. It also noted that you said it would elevate the mall to new heights. How?


Well we're having a lot of positive conversations and that's the attitude that has been captured right now. They're really looking to engage the individuals that are within the, you know, the property's footprint. They're interested in engaging the local community. They are a company that adopts a philosophy that my grandfather taught me years ago is, you know, change is the only thing that's consistent in the world. So they recognize that you know, that there's change and opportunity, or there's opportunity through change. And that's my strong belief that they're going to be facilitating a property where there will be opportunities that meet the needs of both of our stakeholders. Stakeholders for the Town of Plattsburgh are certainly the people that live and work and play here. But it's also our visitors, right. We want to bring people into the region. And I'm really excited about future opportunities. No big announcements are on the table at the moment. But active dialogue is something that is really exciting. And I think that there's going to be a strong presence from them moving forward. The other part to it is, they also obviously see great promise in Plattsburgh because they're making an investment. So I'm looking forward to seeing what their vision is and presenting what we believe our community can do to partner in a way that is mutually beneficial for our stakeholders.


The eclipse was on April 8, as we all remember. Are there any sort of revenue numbers or visitation data yet regarding the people who came to see the eclipse here in Plattsburgh?


Yeah. A lot of it is anecdotal at the moment. Certainly we were having some conversations with the Adirondack Visitors Bureau. Our numbers were very, very strong. I'll just share a quick, funny story. Oh, to be the wife of a town supervisor. I turned to my wife and I said hey, wanna go for a ride and we drove into the town center and we were writing down the license plates that we saw. And on Saturday alone, we had all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. And people were like really? Yep. And then we also saw a number of different provinces from Canada, obviously. And then we had a lot of international visitors. But the additional antidote was where I was on the total solar eclipse, I was talking to a couple that said that they had already booked an additional stay to come back to Plattsburgh. And that was exactly what we were hoping for. They're planning on coming back for leaf peeping season. We always tell people Plattsburgh is a four-season location. And we've heard that from some other people. So I think you'll see a long term impact.


When we were talking about the DRI you mentioned housing. You've got a housing symposium going on. Why?


Because housing is a crisis in every corner of New York State and I would dare say around the country. You know, the Town of Plattsburgh has always taken a position as a leader in various ways. The pro-housing community designation is certainly a distinction that I think shows that we're a leader in this space. But we also recognize that we have more work to do and we want to learn more too. So we're convening people to come together as the North Country Housing Symposium so that we can bring governmental leaders, nonprofit agencies, developers, realtors, a wide spectrum of individuals to come together because it's not just about affordable housing and it's not just about market rate housing. We need all types of housing. So we have to put on our thinking caps. We need to be looking at new policies and procedures that speak to North Country communities. And we need to dig a little bit deeper and really focus on some unique solutions. So I'm looking forward to learning from colleagues around the North Country as well as presenting some of the good work that we've been doing.


You've got Michigan Month coming up.


We do have Michigan Month coming up. It's our fourth year. It has just been un-bun-lievable. But I mustered up the courage to try these puns. But anyways. No, it really has. It's been fantastic. Michigan Month will be during the month of July. We've heard from a number of people that they're planning on coming into the region and partaking in some of the festivities. And in fact, we are having the conversation with some folks locally to revisit the concept of the Michigan Fest. But we have some folks in the community that are actively engaged with us. So my hope is that next year when we're celebrating our fifth Michigan Month, that Michigan Fest may be on the menu. It's one of those things that I really believe will bring our community together. But it's also an opportunity for us to bring visitors both near and far into the region.


The Town of Plattsburgh is hosting the North Country Housing Symposium today at the West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh.



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