UTICA – State Senator Joseph Griffo has announced a $1 million state grant toward the construction of the Irish Cultural Center on the west end of Utica.
Griffo made the announcement at a news conference Thursday morning in the middle of the construction zone at 623 Columbia Street. He said when he learned in March of 2017 that the state had given $2 million for an Irish Cultural Center in Manhattan, he sought cash for Utica's budding center in the city’s brewery district.
“...The Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley, once completed, will help to highlight the rich diversity and history that make up Utica and the Mohawk Valley. This center has the potential to be a major attraction in the city and to attract residents and visitors from the region and beyond,” said Griffo.
Why is the Irish Cultural Center worthy of such a large chunk of taxpayer money? The property developer explains - it's a cultural experience.
“First of all, it's an experience. An Irish pub is different from a bar. It's an experience, it's the meeting place - and every little stick of wood, every piece of furniture every little glass piece, built, made in Ireland. So you'll really see the cultural aspect," said Vaughn Lang.
Lang says an authentic Irish pub was constructed in Ireland, near Dublin, and will serve as the heart of the center. The pub was disassembled and loaded into three containers and is on its way to New York on a ship. It is expected to arrive in early August.
“This funding goes beyond providing for the monies necessary for the completion of the construction of the Center and is another step of support to the advancement of the economy of Utica and the Mohawk Valley. This development is an integral part of the Brewery District and will be a destination point for not only our local population, but for visitors from throughout the area," said Lang.
The cultural center will also feature a museum, conference rooms, and event hall which people can use for weddings and other catered gatherings.
Lang says the Irish Cultural Center will be completed by this fall.