February 9, 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Long Island City will receive $10 million in funding as the New York City regional winner of the seventh round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, as well as the Hudson Square area as this year’s New York City NY Forward winner, receiving $4.5 million. For Round 7 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, each of the State’s 10 economic development regions are being awarded $10 million, to make for a total State commitment of $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.
“In the city that never sleeps, we’re introducing another round of investment to prove that the State never sleeps, either. We’ll continue to work tirelessly to breathe new life into New York’s downtowns – big and small – as they are the heartbeat of our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “With our Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, Long Island City and Hudson Square will now have the charge and opportunity to reinvigorate their downtowns and enhance the quality of life for their residents and all those who visit.”
Building on the momentum of the successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program applies the same “plan-then-act” strategy as the DRI but for New York’s smaller and rural communities. Both couple strategic planning with immediate project implementation to support a more equitable downtown resurgence. With the Governor’s commitment last year of $100 million each for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, the State has now invested a combined total of $1 billion in both programs since their inception. The Governor has proposed another $100 million for each program, totaling $200 million, in her Fiscal Year 2025 Executive Budget.
$4.5 Million NY Forward Award for Hudson Square
Hudson Square is a roughly 33-square block neighborhood located on lower Manhattan’s west side. The neighborhood is primarily commercial in use, with over 12 million square feet of office space. Because of its long industrial history, Hudson Square’s streets are more suited to the movement of goods and vehicles than the movement of people. In addition, the neighborhood has also been historically disconnected from neighboring parts of lower Manhattan, including SoHo, the West Village, and Tribeca. The NY Forward grant will assist in growing local businesses, increasing residential opportunities, and connecting the district with its adjacent communities.
Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “New York City is a mecca for anything and everything, which is why it’s so important to maintain, preserve and enhance our diverse neighborhoods. The Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the New York Forward program are designed to harness the uniqueness of our communities and create an even brighter destination for people to work, live and play. Congratulations to Long Island City and Hudson Square. The Department of State looks forward to seeing your progress.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Long Island City, with its bustling industries and rich culture, is already an economic driver and livable hub within the New York City metro area. This $10 million DRI grant will add to LIC’s dynamism, supporting transformative investments that will create a more inclusive and connected mixed-use community. Additionally, the $4.5 million NY Forward award for Hudson Square will bridge neighborhood and commercial divides and unlock the potential of this Lower Manhattan district on the rise.”
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The State’s $14.5 million commitment to Long Island City and Hudson Square will invest in strategically planned projects identified as priorities by community leaders on the ground in Queens and Manhattan. Thank you to Governor Hochul for her continued support of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward program, which have improved local economies and enhanced neighborhoods across the Empire State.”
New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair & City University of New York Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, “Long Island City’s DRI award reflects the vibrant potential of this dynamic New York City neighborhood and will spur investment to realize its future as an inclusive, mixed-use model of urban connectivity. Similarly, the $4.5 million NY Forward award to Hudson Square will improve cohesion and integration across its commercial district and with neighboring communities, positioning the area as an economic anchor for Lower Manhattan.”
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, “This round of NY Forward applicants all submitted strong, competitive proposals and the fact that the Hudson Square neighborhood received this award speaks not only to the quality of the proposal but the foreseen potential that State capital investment can bring to this important area for our borough and our city. This $5 million investment will help to revitalize the area, while making improvements in the public realm as well as community-proposed improvements to nonprofits, local businesses, and more. We are excited to be a part of this community-driven process and look forward to exploring ideas for projects that will be a part of this major investment.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, “The Hudson Square area of downtown Manhattan has a rich history as an industrial hub. I am pleased to see this allocation of a $4.5 million NY Forward grant that will help support the growth of local businesses and residential opportunities. Hudson Square has been undergoing a revitalization for some time, and this award will help to boost those efforts to create a dynamic, livable community, where small businesses can thrive.”
Hudson Square Business Improvement District President & CEO Samara Karasyk said, “We are immensely grateful to Governor Hochul and the Empire State Development Corporation for recognizing Hudson Square Business Improvement District’s ongoing efforts to transform our neighborhood into a pedestrian-friendly and welcoming community with lush streetscapes and vibrant public spaces. The NY Forward grant will enable us to attract more workers, residents, and visitors – advancing our local hub for creativity and innovation and contributing to New York’s overall economy.”
The New York City Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all seven criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:
- The downtown should be compact, with well-deﬁned boundaries;
- The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
- There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
- The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
- The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
- The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a Strategic Investment Plan;
- The municipality has identiﬁed transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of NY Forward funds; and
- The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.
Hudson Square will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee 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 Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State’s bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.
In the ﬁrst six years of the program, the state committed $700 million investing in 69 downtowns ripe for revitalization and that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown’s potential for transformation. Each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments. More information on the DRI is available here.
About the NY Forward Program
NY Forward is a central component of the State’s economic development policy. The program works in concert with the DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of smaller and rural downtowns throughout the State so that all communities can benefit from the State’s revitalization efforts, regardless of size, character, needs and challenges. Both programs are creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns in every region of the State that is enhancing economic development, quality of life and socio-economic diversity.
Once awarded, NY Forward communities are supported by a professional planning consultant and team of State agency experts led by the DOS to develop a Strategic Investment Plan that includes a slate of transformative, complementary and readily implementable projects. NY Forward projects are appropriately scaled to the size of each community; projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that enhance specific cultural and historical qualities that define and distinguish the small-town charm that defines these municipalities.
The Strategic Investment Plans and projects are driven by a Local Planning Committee, which conducts extensive community outreach and engagement. The Department of State also provides expansive technical assistance and capacity-building webinars — featuring staff, experts and peers from DRI communities — which are geared toward supporting communities that may have less resources and capacity than larger, more urban communities.