Massena's Downtown Revitalization potential projects list narrowed to 13
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
MASSENA — The Local Planning Committee (LPC) and State partners have narrowed the list of potential Downtown Revitalization projects to just 13 finalists that will be submitted to state officials for potential funding.
The initial call for projects was issued in March 2022, with a total of 26 projects received for consideration, officials say.Through a number of LPC meetings, stakeholder meetings, public engagement sessions both virtually and in-person, each project received a thorough review by the LPC and state partners before being included on the final list, according to officials.
Officials had previously selected the revitalization of 48 Main St. and the Schine Theater, warehouse rehabilitation, further renovation of the JJ Newberry building, The Creamery on Water St., Danforth Park, downtown enhancements, a riverwalk and CORE of the Community Fund as 10 projects ready for advancement.
Following the most recent LPC meeting on June 14, officials also decided to advance a new construction project at 9 West Orvis St. and 90 Main St., which will include the demolition of existing buildings to clear space for a 1200 square foot bistro, with extra parking and electric charging stations.
The project was formerly known as the warehouse project and is sponsored by Joe Mittiga.
An additional project included in the last meeting is the renovation of the School of Business gateway and courtyard. The project, though a recent addition, had been considered in recent meetings, as Mayor Greg Paquin sought to complete the project to tie it in with the planned river walk as well. “I really think these projects and our plan could become the poster child for the DRI program, I really do,” Paquin said during the Village Board’s May meeting.
In addition to the School of Business and bistro projects, On the Rocks, located at 20 Water St., is also in consideration. The project, sponsored by Jeffrey and Gerald Johnson, calls for $105,000 in DRI funding for a $250,000 renovation of an existing restaurant on waterfront property, according to the DRI’s website.
The project will include a new pavilion, pizza oven, deck and antique sign refurbishment, officials say.
The Danforth Park project, which would require $1,624,000 from the DRI to fund the entire project, would include a splash pad, accessible playground stations, bathrooms, a picnic area and pavilions. New sidewalks, additional parking and walking paths are also part of the proposed project, officials say.
The renovation of 94-96 Main St. would cost the DRI $163,000 for a $325,000 project that would allow for the complete renovation of an old grocery store and adjoining 20 car parking lot. The project would then be available for professional services or a retail storefront.
The project is sponsored by Michael Kassian.
Rehabilitation of 94 1/2 Main St. would require $513,000 of DRI funding for a $1,026,000 project that would create a 2,000 square foot brick building for commercial use, including indoor golf simulators and multi-sport simulators, officials say. The project will also include family friendly courtyard space with room for dining, as well as space for yard games.
The project is sponsored by Joe Mittiga.
Moving forward as well is the long gestating Schine Theater project, which would cost the DRI $2,102,000 for a $2,127,000 project.
According to Local Planning Committee member Allison Smith, the Schine Theater project is a “transformational opportunity, and based on their application, exhibiting readiness for advancement. It did also align with the DRI goals and vision.”
Moving forward to the final round for consideration is The Creamery, which is described as a project that “will renovate a 5,100-square-foot abandoned building to implement light manufacturing and regionally distribute value-added dairy products, including ice cream, yogurt and cheeses,” according to application materials.
A staple of the DRI application from day one is also moving forward is the updates to the JJ Newberry building, which has already secured a great deal of grant funding for roof replacement and HAZMAT removal.
The project, which would cost the DRI $1,633,000 for a total budget of $3,266,000, has long been in the works from Bill and Sue Fiacco of GoCo Massena LLC.
The project calls for the full modernization and repairs of the historic building, including apartment formalization, flexible retail space, office space, a rooftop deck and the replacement of the existing facade, officials say.
Officials opted to advance the CORE of the Community Fund and downtown enhancements because both projects could play a core role in leveraging opportunities to bring further recreation to the downtown.
Enhancements will include new lighting, sidewalks, benches, flowers and signage, officials say.
One of the key components of the initial DRI application and ongoing applications is the riverwalk, which officials say will enhance recreation opportunities in the downtown area.
Plans include a kayak and canoe launch and would enhance fishing opportunities in the heart of Massena, according to officials.
Each project is now subject to approval from New York State before receiving DRI funding.