Smithtown-Kings Park to Receive $10 Million from Downtown Revitalization Initiative; Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola to Receive $4.5 Million Each from NY Forward Program.
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced Smithtown-Kings Park as the Long Island winner of the seventh round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, receiving $10 million, as well as Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola as this year’s Long Island region NY Forward winners, receiving $4.5 million each. For Round 7 of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, each of the state’s 10 economic development regions are being awarded $10 million, to make for a total state commitment of $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods. Building on the momentum of the successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the $100 million NY Forward program adopts the same “Plan-then-Act” strategy as the DRI, which couples strategic planning with immediate project implementation to support a more equitable downtown resurgence for New York’s smaller and rural communities. With the Governor’s commitment this year of $100 million each for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, the State has now invested a combined total of $1 billion in both programs since their inception.
“Through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward, we are investing in New York’s downtowns – the heartbeat of our communities,” Governor Hochul said. “With this funding, Smithtown-Kings Park, Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola will have the tools they need to reimagine their downtowns to enhance the quality of life for residents, draw visitors, and spur economic opportunity throughout their communities.”
$10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Award for Smithtown-Kings Park
The Town of Smithtown has already taken significant steps toward revitalizing Kings Park that will support Governor Hochul’s housing and economic development goals and catalyze future transformation through the DRI. The Town has begun to make zoning changes in the DRI designated area that will allow for 300 more housing units and enable future development. And the Town has applied for a Pro-Housing Community designation from the New York State Office of Homes and Community Renewal. To complement these efforts, the County has begun construction on a sewer expansion project in the DRI area of Kings Park through $20 million state grant, managed by the Environmental Facilities Corporation, to support the Town’s vision to create a walkable, mixed-use business district centered around the LIRR station with access to restaurants, commercial development, community space and new diverse housing opportunities.
Smithtown-Kings Park has been awarded $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth following the local planning process. Smithtown-Kings Park joins Westbury, Hicksville, Central Islip, Baldwin, Amityville, Riverhead and Huntington Station, which were Long Island’s winners in the ﬁrst six rounds of the DRI.
Smithtown-Kings Park will begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead the eﬀort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each community’s vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community’s vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state’s $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI’s seventh round will be complete in 2024.
$4.5 Million NY Forward Awards for Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola
The Town of Brookhaven will use public/private partnerships to overcome inequities and strengthen the community through the development of new affordable housing close and accessible to the LIRR station; creation of a mixed-use business district, which will include both fresh food and financial establishments; building façade improvements; and streetscape enhancements to improve pedestrian safety.
The Village of Mineola has taken significant steps toward reinvigorating its downtown in preparation for this NY Forward award. The Village has engaged in thoughtful planning and supportive zoning changes to attract new businesses and people to the downtown, which has helped create over 1,400 housing units during the last decade. With this NY Forward award, the Village will build on these important prior efforts by creating more public spaces in the downtown; developing vacant parcels into mixed-use buildings; and completing placemaking and pedestrian improvements.
Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola will now begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize their downtowns. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead the eﬀort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify projects that align with each community’s vision and that are poised for implementation. Funding will be awarded for selected projects from the Strategic Investment Plan that have the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and generate new opportunities for long-term growth.
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Forward programs are proving to be incredibly transformational for so many New York communities looking to reinvigorate and energize their downtowns. These awards will provide the jumpstart needed to drive their revitalization efforts forward and improve their communities economically and socially. The Department of State looks forward to working with you and seeing your progress. Congratulations!”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative will breathe new life into downtown Smithtown-Kings Park by enhancing housing, business growth, and job opportunities while transforming the area into a transit-oriented hub that will catalyze economic prosperity. NY Forward mirrors our DRI efforts by rejuvenating smaller, rural downtowns like Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola through strategic investments in affordable housing, pedestrian accessibility, and public spaces. Together, these efforts support targeted, holistic plans for inclusive growth that will make a positive difference in the lives of Long Island residents and businesses.”
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Today’s announcement shows what can happen when our partners at the local level are willing to do the careful planning required to effectively boost the supply of housing, create new commercial opportunities, and reimagine their downtowns. Through NY Forward and the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, Governor Hochul continues to demonstrate that New York is rewarding communities that are serious about expanding housing and economic opportunities in the areas where people want to live and work. Smithtown’s Kings Park, Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola now have access to the type of funding that helps turn goals into reality. We applaud these communities for developing plans that will benefit New Yorkers far into the future and help make progress addressing the State’s housing shortage on Long Island and beyond.”
LIREDC Co-Chairs Linda Armyn, President & CEO at Bethpage Federal Credit Union and Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College said, “The $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative will ignite suburban renewal in Smithtown-Kings Park, unlocking its potential as an innovative economic hub with new housing, amenities and infrastructure centered on walkability and transit access. Additionally, the NY Forward award marks a transformative opportunity for Brookhaven-North Bellport and Mineola to revitalize their communities. Brookhaven-North Bellport will begin an ambitious planning process for transformation and revitalization of its business district. Mineola will use the funding to fully implement and enhance existing plans. These strategic investments will further equitable development across Long Island for generations to come.”
Assemblymember Michael Fitzpatrick said, “The Smithtown and Kings Park downtowns will not only be revitalized with the help of this grant but will, essentially, be repurposed. The modern suburban downtown, or Main Street, to be viable and successful today, must be able to meet the needs and desires of a changing economy and society. Thanks to Governor Hochul’s initiative, the Kings Park and Smithtown downtowns will move boldly, and smartly, toward a more active, prosperous, and vital future. Good things are happening in Kings Park and Smithtown and I want to thank Governor Hochul for helping us get to where we need to be for a brighter future.”
Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine said, “I thank the Governor for her continued commitment to Suffolk County. This funding is vital to the ongoing downtown revitalization efforts in both Kings Park and North Bellport and will help create jobs and jumpstart local economic growth in our communities.”
Smithtown Town Supervisor Edward R. Wehrheim said, “This is a historic moment for the hamlet of Kings Park and the people of Smithtown. It is the culmination of years of community-based planning, working together with dedicated planning and environmental experts, local businesses, civic leaders, our great school districts, and our partners Government. I want to thank Governor Hochul for recognizing our unwavering commitment in building a vibrant, sustainable downtown together.”
Village of Mineola Mayor Paul A. Pereira said, “The Village of Mineola has been leading the way in downtown revitalization, smart growth, and transit-oriented development for nearly two decades. Mineola has served as an example to other communities as to how you can both meet housing demands on Long Island while still protecting a suburban quality of life. This award not only validates the work that the Village has been doing for the last 20 years, but it also prepares us for the next 20 years. It will help the village better prepare its infrastructure for the continued growth and development of our downtown. The village is grateful to Governor Hochul and her staff, the Empire State development office, and all those that saw the Village of Mineola as a worthy recipient of this award. This award will be put to good use for the continued growth and development of Mineola’s downtown.”
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Daniel J. Panico said, “My administration has made the redevelopment of North Bellport a priority and we are deeply appreciative of the Governor’s commitment to this mutual goal. We must work to lift up our communities and the people who reside within them, and this grant will take us a step closer to realizing the bright future that North Bellport so rightfully deserves.”
The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all criteria below before recommending these communities as nominees:
The downtown should be compact, with well-deﬁned boundaries;
The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, income, gender, identity, ability, mobility and cultural background;
The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a Strategic Investment Plan;
The municipality has identiﬁed transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI or NY Forward funds; and
The municipality has the local capacity to manage the planning process and implementation of projects, including the ability to oversee contracts for awarded municipal projects.
About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State’s bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.
In the ﬁrst six years of the program, the state committed $700 million investing in 69 downtowns ripe for revitalization and that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown’s potential for transformation. Each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments. More information on the DRI is available here.
About the NY Forward Program
NY Forward is a central component of the State’s economic development policy. The program works in concert with the DRI to accelerate and expand the revitalization of smaller and rural downtowns throughout the State so that all communities can benefit from the State’s revitalization efforts, regardless of size, character, needs and challenges. Both programs are creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns in every region of the State that is enhancing economic development, quality of life and socio-economic diversity.
Once awarded, NY Forward communities are supported by a professional planning consultant and team of State agency experts led by the DOS to develop a Strategic Investment Plan that includes a slate of transformative, complementary and readily implementable projects. NY Forward projects are appropriately scaled to the size of each community; projects may include building renovation and redevelopment, new construction or creation of new or improved public spaces and other projects that enhance specific cultural and historical qualities that define and distinguish the small-town charm that defines these municipalities.
The Strategic Investment Plans and projects are driven by a Local Planning Committee, which conducts extensive community outreach and engagement. The Department of State also provides expansive technical assistance and capacity-building webinars — featuring staff, experts and peers from DRI communities — which are geared toward supporting communities that may have less resources and capacity than larger, more urban communities.