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Plattsburgh Officials Submit Bid To Obtain $10 Million In Economic Development Funds

Plattsburgh redevelopment rendering
City of Plattsburgh
Plattsburgh redevelopment rendering

The city of Plattsburgh has submitted its plan to obtain $10 million in a statewide competition for downtown revitalization funds.
On April 7 Governor Andrew Cuomo launched a $100 millionDowntown Revitalization Initiative.  Unveiled in January in his State of the State address as the fourth signature proposal of his 2016 agenda, the program will invest $10 million in one community in each of the 10 Regional Economic Development Council regions.  

Friday was the deadline in New York’s northern tier to submit revitalization plans to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.  The city of Plattsburgh submitted its DRI planon Friday.

Mayor James Calnon believes it has the potential to transform the city center by providing more walkability, open and green spaces, while crafting development that is ‘authentic’ to the downtown.   “Really kind of figure out a way to look at what is the real center of our business district and it's a great opportunity for some wide open space as well as some more retail, some more housing, some more services. I think just a really good mix. Now we've been talking about this as a city since Frank Arvay was trying to build a mall downtown in 1978. The vision just kept getting more and more detailed. And we're just really ready to take the next step.  Now it's a very big deal but the money that’s out there in this competition really is to revitalize downtowns and that's exactly what we've been pointed towards for decades and it just seems that this is now the time that we may have the means to do that.”

Mayor Calnon compares Plattsburgh’s plans to the Vermont city of Burlington’s redevelopment plans, which includes high rise multi-use buildings in the downtown.   “Burlington is a really good example. I mean if you compare Burlington with say New York City where everything's up. But one of the really nice things about Burlington has been things like Church Street which are a nice blend of the old buildings, the old authentic downtown, and then attached to some things that augment that. Burlington may be aspiring to be more like New York City. We're aspiring to be a little bit more like Church Street in that sense. That we’ll have a gathering place that is big enough to accommodate retail as well as recreation, arts and culture. We're not aspiring to be big and huge, although the possibility of a multi-story building, a multi-use building, is out there. The details of course will be developed as we advance the planning that we've been doing for the last two years.”

Ward One Democrat Rachelle Armstrong likes how the redevelopment tries to take advantage of downtown’s strengths.   “What came together in my mind was the idea to really build upon what is uniquely Plattsburgh and not to try to present a plan that would essentially duplicate other models throughout our region.  I think it really draws upon our strength. My hope is that once the plan is detailed there is a way to find additional corridors that embrace the rest of the city and find ways to draw people downtown.”

There has been talk of downtown redevelopment for years. One example is a parking lot that remains as the only remnant of a hotel conference center plan that never came to fruition.  Armstrong believes the city’s restoration of the Community Development office will make a difference.   “Very frankly we were not able to be a serious part of the grant pipeline unless we had that position. And I think the reinstatement of that office has been one of the reasons why we're so viable.”