The Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood and the City of North Tonawanda will receive $10 million each in funding as the Western New York region winners of the fifth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
Led by the Department of State, the DRI serves as a cornerstone of the State’s economic development policy by transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract redevelopment, businesses, jobs, and economic and housing diversity.
In this round, Governor Hochul doubled funding from $100 million to $200 million and allowed each Regional Economic Development Council to decide whether to nominate two $10 million awardees or one $20 million awardee for transformative and catalytic downtown redevelopment projects. Like past DRI rounds, each selected community will develop a strategic plan through a bottom-up, community-based planning process that articulates a vision for the revitalization of its downtown and identifies a list of signature projects that have the potential to transform the downtown and leverage further private and public investments
Buffalo and North Tonawanda will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. Local Planning Committees made up of municipal representatives, community leaders, and other stakeholders will lead the effort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plans will examine local assets and opportunities and identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation.
The Buffalo application called for defining the area around the Broadway Market with gateway projects at Broadway Fillmore and Broadway Memorial to delineate the area as a shopping destination; to link the two anchors of the neighborhood, the Broadway Market and the Central Terminal, to improve the safety of the neighborhood through additional street lighting, to install new sidewalks and curbs, to increase the density of the neighborhood through housing rehab and in-fill housing; to provide assistance to small businesses within the neighborhood.
A significant amount of the funding will open the Gibson Street side of the Broadway Market for small businesses with entrances from both the interior of the market and Gibson Street. It will also resurface the 2nd and 3rd floor parking ramps and allow for electric vehicle charging stations to be installed. It will provide new wayfinding signage for the interior of the market, provide turnkey vendor spaces with fire suppression systems to increase the variety of international food offerings; revamp interior lighting and painting of interior market ceiling and walls. These critical improvements to the interior of the Broadway Market benefit the Broadway Fillmore community, in that a refreshed indoor gather space is created where members of the community will have access to fresh healthy food, and a unique shopping experience. Vendors will experience business growth as the Market becomes a regional shopping destination once again.
The proposal for Central Terminal, is to create a community amenity that can be used by the residents in the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation has laid out plans for a “Great Lawn” and “Civic Commons.”
In addition, the Department of Public Works is in the early stages of developing a design for a Fillmore Ave Streetscape project in Broadway-Fillmore, an opportunity to revitalize the Fillmore Ave Commercial Corridor by changing physical elements along the street, providing a more welcoming environment for businesses, visitors, and community residents. Potential changes may include new trees, curbing for enhanced walkability, and more lighting to create a more friendly and comfortable atmosphere.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “The selection of Buffalo’s Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood as a $10 million winner for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will truly have a transformative impact on this entire area. This infusion of money into one of Buffalo’s oldest neighborhoods will help ensure an equitable recovery of this urban area from the pandemic by supporting local businesses, creating new housing opportunities and leveraging private investments. I’d like to thank Governor Hochul for her continued leadership in moving our state forward by investing in our downtowns.”