The Seneca Falls Development Corp (SFDC) announced that the Town of Seneca Falls has been selected as a finalist for the Finger Lakes Region’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.

Today’s announcement follows an 18-month effort by the SFDC to lay a stronger foundation for economic growth, downtown revitalization, and ongoing grant pursuits for the Seneca Falls area.

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council received applications from throughout the region and selected finalists from the pool of submissions. The council will now review the finalists in greater detail before selecting their nominee and submitting it to the State. If the Department of State approves, the winning municipality will receive the $10 million grant.

“Drafting this grant proposal has been the highlight of my time with the SFDC,” said Greg Zellers, SFDC Director, “because it’s the end result of community-wide collaboration and effort to improve the downtown corridors, the quality of life, and the appreciation of place.”

Just some of the proposed projects presented in the plan for consideration included:

• Downtown Parking and Walkability Improvement
• Commercial Building Improvement Program
• Programs to Reduce the Number of Vacant Downtown Parcels
• Sackett Business District Revitalization
• Area Signage Improvement and Additions
• Support for Local Museum Building Improvements
• Funding to support restoration of the proposed site of the Seneca Falls Performing Arts Center
• Completion of the Cayuga-Seneca Trail to connect Seneca Falls with Waterloo and Geneva
• Beautifying the Ludovico Trail
• Community Foundation for Housing and Greenscape Improvement
• Increasing Housing Stock and Affordable Housing Alternatives
• Support for Motorless Canal Activities
• Business Incubator for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups
• Adding an Interactive Seneca Falls Walk of Fame

As in the two years prior, this third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) will invest $10 million in ten different regions across New York State. The community fortunate enough to be awarded the DRI funds in each region will benefit from a transformed, revitalized, and vibrant downtown area where tomorrow’s workforce will want to live, work and raise families.

The Town of Seneca Falls first applied for a DRI grant in 2016. While not a finalist for the award, the experience provided a goal to work toward, and ultimately became the catalyst for a comprehensive planning process with the 2018 submission at the forefront.

After more than 18 months of collaborative efforts among government officials, residents, organizations, and the business community, the SFDC submitted a refreshed DRI grant application to coincide with the Town’s recently-adopted Economic Development and Revitalization Plan.

“Visitors from all over the world come to Seneca Falls to explore and honor its history, to enjoy year-round fun activities, and to take in our small-town charm,” said Joell Murney-Karsten, SFDC Board Chair. “A vibrant downtown area will not only improve their experience, but also help to revitalize the jewel within the crown of our historic region.”

The proposed DRI area for Seneca Falls is 220 acres in size with a perimeter of approximately three miles. It also encompasses Seneca Falls’ central business district (both the Fall Street corridor and the Sackett District), which includes more than 30 blocks of homes, businesses and historic sites. The entirety of the proposed DRI area is easily walkable for both residents and visitors, which will present a more positive experience as people tour the impending new home of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which will be located at the site of the former Seneca Knitting Mill.

“The transformation of our proposed DRI area will help attract new businesses and residents to both the downtown area and the surrounding neighborhoods within Seneca Falls,” added Zellers. “As the birthplace of Women’s Rights, our history is one of progress, and if the selection committee embraces our vision, the DRI grant will ensure we have a future to match.”

The winning community won’t be announced until later in the summer, but the SFDC is continuing its push to pursue additional opportunities that can benefit area residents, businesses, and organizations.

“With the foundation we’ve been building the last few years,” said Murney-Karsten, “we’re in a position to properly showcase everything Seneca Falls has to offer. We’ve already seen a number of small wins, and each of these wins act as building blocks that can help us develop a brighter future.”