Canton residents share opinions on Downtown Revitalization Initiative plans
BY PAUL MITCHELL
North Country This Week
CANTON – The former Jubilee supermarket in the dilapidated Midtown Plaza was a recurring theme at a public session held Thursday night at TAUNY to receive input to include in the Village of Canton’s 2022 Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant program and possibly NY-Forward competition.
Led by Canton Economic Developer Leigh Rodiguez, about 12 people attended the session to share their thoughts on what could be done to improve the economic and aesthetic quality for downtown Canton.Rodriguez said besides the Midtown Plaza, key components of the application will focus on the Riverside Drive Corridor, the Gouverneur Street gateway, and Bend in the River area for enhanced recreational opportunities.
“The grant is intended to spark private commitment. We cannot present concepts. There needs to be some skin in the game already,” she said. “We need private investment.”
For several years, SUNY Canton has worked diligently to acquire the Midtown Plaza property with hopes of opening an entrepreneur center with commercial space and apartment units.
The existing dilapidated structure will be demolished and replaced by an attractive three-story, mixed-use building. The first floor will house an Entrepreneurship Center and commercial space. The second and third floors will house 45 residential units. Improvements will be made to the parking lots and grounds resulting in an attractive 3.76-acre space integrated architecturally and economically with the village’s Main Street, the proposal reads.
Deputy Mayor Carol Pynchon said the project was moving in a positive direction in June 2020 but then COVID stepped in.
“It came to a crashing halt. We’re getting there. It’s promising. It makes a difference to the whole downtown,” she stated.
The current stumbling block centers around site control and purchasing the property from owner Garry Cohen, New York City.
New York State has designated $200 million in the 2022 state budget for these programs - $100 million to the DRI and $100 million to NY-Forward. The grant money is earmarked to help communities develop plans and implement projects that will revitalize downtowns.
There are 10 regions with Canton in the North Country region. Each region will receive one $10 million DRI award and another $10 million for up to three smaller NY-Forward.
The village can submit applications for DRI and NY-Forward or both, said Rodiguez.
The DRI program was initiated in 2016. Previous recipients in the North Country region are Plattsburgh, Watertown, Saranac lake, Potsdam, and in 2021 Massena and Tupper Lake.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 23.
Applications will be reviewed by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council with announcements expected in November or December.
“If awarded funding, there is an intense planning process to develop a Strategic Investment Plan, followed by formal solicitation and selection of projects by a local planning committee,” Rodriguez explained.
More information is available on the Canton DRI/NY-Forward website - www.cantondri.weebly.com . Suggestions and comments can be directed to Rodriguez by calling (315) 386-2871 ext. 5 or email at [email protected]