AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The City of Amsterdam was selected in 2018 to receive $10 million as part of New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Four years later, the city is working on implementing 15 projects with funding from the DRI.
In the city’s DRI Strategic Investment Plan, four goals are outlined for the revitalization of the city. The goals are waterfront development, vibrant place-making, year-round access, and a diverse mixed-use core. The city included its vision statement which reads:
“Amsterdam seeks to strategically build a diverse, accessible, and sustainable downtown encompassing both sides of the Mohawk River. This new city center will offer a variety of opportunities to enhance quality of life now and in the future, including retail enterprises, community services, transportation, housing, recreation, education, employment, and inclusive community facilities.”
The projects are based on these goals and the vision statement. The plan included around 20 projects, but only 15 were chosen for DRI funding. Each of the projects had a projected timeline for completion, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed some of them.
“The pandemic certainly slowed our city’s DRI implementation down for a while and the COVID-induced inflation on construction costs has forced us to downsize or divide some of the projects into doable chunks as we search for additional funding and hope construction costs come down,” said Mayor Mike Cinquanti.
Out of the 15 projects, two have been completed and three are in progress. Mayor Cinquanti said three other projects will hopefully begin this year. The city will secure other sources of funding for projects where the DRI funding is not enough to cover the total project cost.
1. Establish design guidelines
- Total project cost: $50,000
- DRI funding: $50,000
The city said these design guidelines work to establish a set of high-quality and aesthetic standards to create a cohesive and attractive downtown. The guidelines address facade improvements, signage regulations, lighting, landscaping, and beautification efforts.
2. Provide amenities for X-Squad business relocation
- Total project funding: $60,000
- DRI funding: $60,000
X-Squad Water Ski Show Team is a not-for-profit and renovations have been completed for the team to relocate to Amsterdam to train and perform weekly shows along the Mohawk River. The project consisted of constructing a 300 square feet storage unit, a new dock, and boat lifts. The city said this relocation contributes to improving tourism and recreation facilities.
Projects in progress
3. Extend Chuctanunda Creek Trail
- Total project cost: $342,300
- DRI funding: $288,728
The Chuctanunda Creek Trail project is a four-mile path that begins at the Mohawk River Trail and follows the creek through downtown. The trail includes waterfalls, bridges, and historic structures. This project would establish a clear path through the downtown and provide enhanced signage, lighting, and safety measures. It would also connect to the proposed library expansion. The city said this will allow the downtown to serve as a trailhead for the trail.
4. Develop wayfinding signage, art and marketing
- Total project cost: $500,000
- DRI funding: $500,000
This project includes the development of a vehicle and pedestrian wayfinding system for destinations throughout the downtown, a public realm art program, and the marketing of downtown assets. The city said the wayfinding system will create a consistent approach that will help with marketing initiatives, place-making efforts, and tourism.
5. Establish downtown improvement fund
- Total project cost: $1,200,00
- DRI funding: $600,000
This project will establish a matching grant fund for applicants within the DRI area to implement exterior and interior building improvements. The city said a number of downtown property owners have expressed an interest in the facade and building upgrades but are in need of financial assistance.
Projects expected to start this year
6. Renovate and expand Amsterdam Free Library
- Total project cost: $4,300,000
- DRI funding: $1,800,000
This project includes the renovation and expansion of the Amsterdam Free Library, including a STEM education facility. A feature of the expansion is the creation of a large, multi-use community room that includes a stage, sound and light equipment, screen, and projector.
7. Construct Community Center / Recreation Center
- Total project cost: $6,000,000
- DRI funding: $2,500,000
This project includes the rehabilitation of 149 East Main Street for use as a community center and the construction of a new recreation center. The Community Center will include a computer lab, an art gallery, a shared kitchen, and a space for activities including music, reading, tutoring, watching movies, dancing, aerobics, painting, and photography. The Recreation Center will house four basketball courts, a track, and a turf field.
8. Transform the Southside into a vibrant, walkable community
- Total project cost: $312,785
- DRI funding: $312,785
The project includes the creation of a boardwalk, and improvements to the sidewalks, streetscape,
and civic spaces adjacent to the Chalmers Mills Lofts. The city said these improvements will encourage pedestrian activity along Bridge Street and connect the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge to Southside’s shopping and restaurant scene.
Projects not started yet
9. Remove NYS Route 5
- Total project cost: $547,087
- DRI funding: $547,087
The city plans to remove the eastbound portion of NYS Route 5 and repurpose it to create “greenspace.” Officials said this is critical to driving more traffic into downtown and preparing key sites for development. This funding would help in redirecting traffic underneath the NYS Route 30 Bridge toward Washington Street where traffic would turn right to reconnect with NYS Route 5. This will free land for the development of the proposed Recreation Center. Funding would be used for temporary barriers, signage, striping, and the removal of asphalt and paving at the Recreation Center site.
10. Create downtown entry gateway
- Total project cost: $1,000,000
- DRI funding: $1,000,000
The city said this project will create an exciting and defined gateway into downtown that includes art, new lighting, landscape improvements, sidewalks, and new signage.
11. Construct community dog park and mid-block connector
- Total project cost: $323,400
- DRI funding: $323,400
This project includes the construction of a fenced-in, leash-free dog park on the Southside of Amsterdam. There are currently no dog parks within the City of Amsterdam or in all of Montgomery County. The city said the park would help attract new residents.
12. Relocate Amsterdam Skate Park
- Total project cost: $93,000
- DRI funding: $93,000
In order to make room for the proposed recreation center, the city said the Amsterdam Skatepark will need to be relocated. The current skatepark located at 143 East Main Street, will be relocated in the immediate vicinity of the new recreation center and community center.
13. Install Bridge Street / Main Street enhancements
- Total project cost; $350,000
- DRI funding: $350,000
The city said enhancements to Bridge Street and East Main Street will attract more visitors and benefit local businesses. This project focuses on decorative lighting, sidewalk upgrades, landscaping, and street furniture along both Bridge Street and the two segments of East Main Street.
14. Rehabilitate former Key Bank building
- Total project cost: $2,500,000
- DRI funding: $1,000,000
This project includes the rehabilitation of the former Key Bank building to accommodate commercial use on the first floor and residential units of the upper floors. The project will create 20 to 30 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.
15. Renovate Sweet Canal Store
- Total project cost: $688,120
- DRI funding: $275,000
This project includes the renovation of the Samuel Sweet Canal Store to accommodate a tavern and retail space. The project will convert the building’s second-floor into a tavern space, add public sewer and water hookups, install a new roof, and construct a parking lot. The first floor will be converted into retail space.
“As a DRI City, our strategy is to make our downtown core more pedestrian-friendly with new restaurants and retail shops. These small businesses bring jobs and boost local tax revenues. They also boost our local economy because when one of our residents eats at a local restaurant or shops at a local retail establishment the money spent there generates four times the economic impact for our community,” said Mayor Cinquanti.
To view the full DRI plan, you can visit the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative website.