GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls public arts trail will be the first project to be implemented, now that the state has approved the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The launch of a contest for small business start-up funding is another initial priority, said Edward Bartholomew, president of EDC Warren County and administrator of the local Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Glens Falls on Thursday to announce the “winning projects” that are part of the $9.7 million final plan the state has approved.
“Members of the Common Council, members of the planning team, you got it right,” Hochul said, speaking to local government, business and civic leaders at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
The centerpiece of the plan is the “Market on South Street,” a new structure at the front portion of the current South Street parking lot that would house a year-round farmers market, retail shops, a commercial test kitchen, educational programs and cultural events.
“This is going to be a new downtown anchor building,” Hochul said. “It will remind everyone that you have a great new place that you can congregate.”
The Market on South Street project fits with the goal of the city’s plan to establish downtown as an “AWE” district, Hochul said.
AWE stands for arts, wellness and entertainment.
Funding which the city proposed for expanding The Queensbury Hotel, establishing a Glens Falls film commission, constructing a catwalk at Charles R. Wood Theater and projection equipment at facilities that host the Adirondack Film Festival were not specifically approved as “winning projects,” but might qualify for funding under other broad categories in the plan, and city also can seek funding in the next round of regular state regional economic development grants, Bartholomew said.
The city plan requested $12.5 million in funding, in order to provide the state flexibility in how the $9.7 million would be used, he said.
Bartholomew said he has already started the paperwork for the process of requesting proposals from developers to construct the Market on South Street facility and to redevelop four properties on South and Elm streets, another project in the plan.
Another state-approved project is to relocate the SUNY Adirondack culinary program from Queensbury to downtown.
SUNY Adirondack President Kristine Duffy, who attended the announcement, said college officials are not yet ready to announce the location.
Other state-approved projects are a downtown park with stormwater retention features on South Street, a high-speed broadband initiative, a downtown revitalization fund and a one-mile public arts trail.
A portion of the downtown revitalization fund money will be used for a contest in which business experts will work with potential entrepreneurs to develop business plans, with the winning plans receiving start-up business funding.
The Greater Glens Falls Local Develop Corp. will administer the contest.
“We will be setting up meetings immediately to begin the criteria,” Bartholomew said.
Planning for the public arts trail, a collaborative effort of museums, arts organization and performance venues, has been underway for more than a year.
“The arts trail, that will get under way quickly,” Bartholomew said.
The Glens Falls Arts District, which is undertaking the trail, has raised money and prepared plans to be ready as soon as the DRI was approved, said Kate Austin Avon, an arts district board member.
If the arts district had spent the money before the state approved the DRI plan, it would not have been reimbursed from the state.
“We’ve been, I was going to say ‘patiently waiting,’ but we haven’t been that patient,” she said.