Rome, N.Y. - Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an appearance in Rome on Monday and the news he brought was music to the ears of Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo.
Cuomo approved Rome's list of projects it submitted in March to revitalize its downtown district.
It was last September when Cuomo visited Rome and announced the City of Rome had been selected as the Mohawk Valley winner of the second round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, or DRI. That meant Rome would get $10 million to help revitalize its downtown district.
Cuomo says the goal of the DRI is to create new opportunities for growth to attract new businesses and young people, and help breathe new life into downtown areas across the state. He says the state is looking for downtown areas that support a vibrant and walkable place within the city.
Once a municipality is selected under the DRI program, it can use up to $300,000 of that money to come up with a final list of projects and initiatives it views as key to revitalizing its downtown, called the Strategic Investment Plan.
Mayor Izzo and Mohawk Valley Edge President Steve DiMeo chaired a local planning committee that included politicians and community leaders, which came up with the list.
After holding public hearings, the city of Rome submitted a group of projects to the state in March and has been awaiting word on which projects had been approved by the state.
On Monday, it was announced which projects will be completed as part of the DRI program.
The specific projects to be funded through the DRI include:
Advanced Manufacturing Facility Construction: Construction of an advanced manufacturing facility to meet the expansion needs of an existing Rome business currently located outside of the downtown. The 50,000-sq. ft. facility will be located on the former Rome Cable Complex 3 brownfield site. ($900,000)
Capitol Theatre Renovations: Complete exterior and interior renovations of the historic Capitol Theatre, a major arts and cultural tourism destination for the region and an anchor institution for the downtown. Improvements, which include façade restoration, purchase and installation of a new marquee sign, seating refurbishment, and HVAC, electrical, and plumbing upgrades, will enhance the building's historic character and appeal, expand the theater's ability to attract high-quality programming, and bring even more visitors to the area throughout the year. ($2,500,000)
Mixed-Use Development on West Dominick Street: Redevelopment of a vacant property at a central location in the downtown for mixed uses. A new structure at 183 West Dominick Street will meet a demand for high-quality commercial and multi-family residential space, and will fill a visible gap in the commercial corridor directly across from the City Green. ($500,000)
Demolish the Liberty George Parking Garage and Replace with Temporary Public Use: The Liberty George Parking Garage, a visual detriment to the downtown core, is structurally unfit for reuse. The project will allow for the demolition of the obsolete and unsafe structure and installation of an attractive, landscaped surface parking lot and open space on the site as a temporary use until a developer can be secured. The city will issue a request for proposals to develop the site in a manner consistent with the DRI plan goals. ($1,500,000)
Public Enhancements to City Hall: Creation of an expanded public space in City Hall fronting on the City Green to allow for four-season community programming. An open-air area in the City Hall building will be enclosed and expanded to create 3,000 square-foot gathering space to be used for a variety of public event and ADA accessible public restrooms. ($1,280,000)
Liberty James Public Parking Garage Modernization and Improvements: Make aesthetic and operational improvements to the existing Liberty James Garage, the primary parking structure downtown and Fort Stanwix National Monument. The project will include rehabilitation of an existing walkway, replacing storefront glazing, repairing brick, adding wayfinding signage, repairing garage infrastructure, installing an automated ticketing system, and re-facing the façade. Modernization will allow for 24/7 access to the garage and improve the aesthetic appeal of this visible and centrally-located structure. ($1,350,000)
Create an Adaptive Reuse, Business Assistance, and Public Art Fund for Downtown Rome: Establish a grant fund to leverage private investment in buildings to facilitate business retention, expansion and adaptive reuse. Improvements covered under the fund will include capital improvements and interior/exterior renovations. Grants will also be available to incorporate public art in the downtown. ($470,000)
Transform City Hall Green Space into a Four-Season Destination: Upgrade the City Green to expand opportunities for year-round public use and programming of the green space outside City Hall. Improvements will include an ice skating rink, concert stage, temporary vendor support areas, and seasonal event space, all of which will retain residents and visitors in the downtown core for an extended duration. ($400,000)
REACH Center Arts Incubator Renovations: Renovate the REACH Center at 201-211 West Dominick Street to provide 28,000 sq. ft. of collaborative creative arts space on the upper floor, and 10,000 sq. ft. of flexible rental maker space on the ground floor. Additional REACH programming will enable local artists to produce and exhibit their work while providing on the job training for creative entrepreneurs. ($250,000)
Create a Downtown CENTRO Multimodal Transportation Center: Design and construct a new CENTRO (Central New York Regional Transportation Authority) Transfer Station and surrounding site improvements to promote sustainability through multimodal transit adjacent to the City Hall parking lot on Liberty Street. The center will include a climate-controlled enclosure with a ticket kiosk, waiting area, and office. A heated sidewalk will surround the structure; bicycle storage will be provided; and attractive landscape will be installed. The project will provide connectivity with the pedestrian-oriented downtown. ($400,000)
Implement the Downtown Wayfinding System: Implement a wayfinding system to move residents and visitors through the downtown core in an active and engaging way. A variety of signs will be created based on a unified design and placemaking strategy that outlines standards for signage based on location, type, and intended user. ($150,000)
Izzo says she was happy with Monday's news and says let the revitalization of downtown Rome begin.
Izzo says she sees the projects need to be completed two years from today, and she says come July 2, 2020, she sees a much more vibrant downtown.
"I see a really different looking downtown Rome. I see a lot of vibrancy," Izzo said. "You’ll see more people there, we already know. I think you’ll see a different business mix and hopefully by that time you’ll hopefully have some for the residential living there."