The committee of Lockport residents charged with recommending uses for $10 million in state development funds has identified 15 potential projects for funding.
Over two dozens projects totaling $25.4 million have been proposed for utilizing the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, announced last October. State agencies have ultimate say over which projects receive the funding — and how much — and are expected to announce the winners sometime in late spring or early summer.
However, state agencies are supposed to consider the recommendations of the Local Planning Committee, a 22-member panel consisting of city officials and representatives of local organizations and businesses.
The Local Planning Committee last month created a preliminary list for DRI funding, including 15 projects that total about $15.16 million:
• Redeveloping the F&M Building, 116 Main St., into a mixed-use facility with covered parking. The nearly $5.1 million project would utilize $1.35 million in DRI funds.
• Redeveloping the former YMCA building, 19 East Ave., into market-rate apartments or some combinations of residential, retail or office space. The project sponsor, the Greater Lockport Development Corporation, recently issued a request for proposals for developers interested in purchasing the building. The GLDC is requesting $1 million in DRI funding on a $4.5 million project.
• Developing building three of Harrison Place, including rebuilding the atrium clerestory, leveling the ground floor, replacing windows and creating a shared kitchen with a food hall incubator. The incubator would allow aspiring restaurateurs to test their concepts on a smaller scale and offer diners plenty of food options. The $1.2 million project would utilize $955,000 in DRI funding.
• Construction of a rooftop pavilion and an amphitheater/gathering space on the top levels of the Spalding Mill and Historic Mill Race. The Lockport Historic Mill Race, Inc., a non-profit organization, is asking for $2.2 million in DRI funds for the $2.5 million project, which would improve handicapped access to the nearly 200-year-old property.
• Improving the Pine Street corridor. The $995,000 project, which would be fully funded through DRI funding, would add cross-walks and landscaping and enhance traffic lanes in the confusing intersection of Pine and Lock streets.
• Renovate the Tuscarora Club, 128 Walnut St., into a wedding and events venue with bar and catering, and 10 residential units. Owner Dominick Ciliberto, who bought the building from the GLDC last year for $230,000, is seeking $800,000 in DRI funding for the nearly $2.29 million project.
Improve and renovate the Historic Palace Theatre, including replacing the roof, adding roof solar panels and installing a new stage rigging system, orchestra pit and theatre seating. The Theatre is seeking $600,000 in DRI funding for a $1.25 million project.
• Help fund the Lock Tender Tribute. Work is underway on the first phase of the 14-figure statue, which would be placed in the canal and pay tribute to the lock tenders of the Erie Canal. The first phase, including four figures, is scheduled for completion in the fall. The Locks District Heritage Corporation is seeking $275,000 in DRI funding and would contribute $215,000 in private funds.
• Rehabilitate 13 West Main St. into retail space on the lower levels and 6,000 square feet of office space on the upper level. The project sponsor is seeking $250,000 for the $504,000 project.
• Renovate the former post office, 1 East Ave., into office space and an event venue. The nearly $4.85 million project, utilizing almost $1.8 million in DRI funds, would also include improvements to the fire suppression system, kitchen, restrooms and elevator. Construction of the Lockport Marine and Harbor Center. The center would be located between the West Genesee Street and Stevens Street bridges, and would include a roughly 580-foot floating dock, an asphalt trail and a nearby parking lot. The $3.6 million project would be fully funded through DRI dollars.
• South Street Corridor improvements. $350,000 in DRI funds would enhance pedestrian areas on South Street near Harrison Place.
• Development of the Clinton Building, 1-11 Main St., including façade improvements and development of the second story into apartments. The LPC stated it would only back this project if the property owner foots at least half of the $285,200 bill.
• Development of office space on the upper floors of The Warehouse, 60 Chestnut St. Like with the Clinton Building, the LPC will only back the project if the sponsor contributes half of the $498,000 project.
• Small Project Grant Fund. This $1.2 million fund, including $600,000 in DRI dollars, would help downtown property owners make small improvements to their buildings.
Meanwhile, the committee is asking for more information on six additional projects: the $175,000 Union Station community space proposal; the request for $3.3 million for restoring the Flight of Five Locks; the $700,000 Main Street/Transit Road corridor improvements; the $950,000 Walnut Street corridor improvements; $500,000 for delineating the parking lot between Frontier Place and Chestnut Street; and $1.7 million for connecting pedestrian and bicycle paths.
The committee could decide at its next meeting March 11 to add one of these six projects to the final list, which already totals $15.16 million. State officials ask for $13 to $15 million in recommended the projects, then whittles the list down to $10 million of projects.
Because the preliminary list already exceeds $15 million, the committee would likely need to remove a project from its preliminary list to make room for a project that didn’t initially make the cut.
The committee deemed another four projects to be poor fits for the DRI: an $8.65 million downtown hotel (using $1.88 million in DRI dollars), an apartment above Lake Effect Ice Cream, $700,000 in improvements to the Market and Locust streets corridor and Bright Lights Lock City, a $138,300, multi-part public art endeavor.
The DRI is intended to spur projects that transform and spur investment in downtown, appear feasible, provide direct impacts on jobs and tax revenue, and enjoy public support.
To gauge public opinion, the committee invited residents to vote on the proposed projects at its Jan. 14 meeting.
Residents showed the most enthusiasm for the Historic Mill Race, F&M Building, YMCA, Harrison Place, Pine Street, Historic Palace Theatre, Small Project Grant Fund, 13 West Main St. Lock Tender Tribute and Union Station, the latter two of which were not included on the preliminary list. The Warehouse and the Clinton Building were the least popular projects, yet did make the preliminary list.
Committee member Becky Burns said she prioritized projects that met the DRI goals, as she felt Albany would reject projects that would not support the intent of the DRI. For the past three years, the state has awarded 10 annual DRI awards throughout the state to rejuvenate struggling downtown areas.
“(State officials are) going to be looking at their goals and intentions, so we might as well do that ahead of time,” said Burns, who is also a member of the LHDC.
The committee will meet at March 11 to vote on its final list of recommended project in its Strategic Investment Plan, which is due to the state by March 31. That list will be announced March 18.