When driving into downtown Glens Falls, it’s hard to miss the new residential and commercial buildings under construction. In the shadow of a multi-story mixed use building that is nearing completion, is what was once the center of downtown nightlife.
Standing on the corner of South and Elm in Glens Falls, and there are two buildings next to each other. Both have bars or used to have bars on the ground floor. The top two or three stories in each of the buildings has boarded-up windows.
For the past several years, the city has bought up property along South Street in hopes of one day redeveloping the area.
With a big boost through a $10 million grant from Empire State Development, Mayor “Jack” Diamond says the transformation of the South Street corridor is coming into view.
“It really is great news, you know? Because we’ve been putting small amounts of money right from the start with Senator Schumer there with infrastructure to do some sewer and water lines, and now we really have a significant amount of cash to make a difference,” said Diamond.
Diamond wants to see a street with first-floor retail and housing above to bring sales tax to the city. While there may not be as many bars on the street anymore, city leaders see potential in the existing commercial units. The area is home to the farmers’ market and is close to other shops and eateries.
The city of 14,000 must now prepare a plan on how to spend the money, but one potential use is the city helping developers cover the costs of rehabbing or demolishing the older buildings that may not fall under the business owner’s loan. The city would pay first and would then reimbursed by the state upon approval.
“You’re not going to see new buildings popping out of the ground tomorrow, but it’s going to take some time. It’ll occur over time,” said Diamond.
The neighborhood awarded the grant is a short walk from the city’s downtown core that includes several new shops and restaurants as well as an aging Civic Center that is under new ownership and has seen several upgrades and improvements.
One of several downtowns in the region receiving funding, Glens Falls is the winner of the Capital Region Downtown Revitalization Initiative, introduced this year in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.
Under some of the guidelines, the neighborhoods nominated for the initiative must be compact and well-defined, support mixed-use development and diverse housing, be walkable, and have local support.
In a recent press release, state Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec as well as Warren County Board of Supervisors chair Kevin Geraghty praised Cuomo and the city for securing the funding.