Ithaca in final three for Downtown Revitalization Initiative
ITHACA (WENY) -- Last year, the city of Elmira was awarded $10 million dollars to revitalize their downtown. Now a second round of contenders--including Ithaca--are vying for the grant.
"Some people will look at Ithaca and say, they already have it, why do they need it?" says Joann Cornish, Director of Ithaca's Planning and Development.
But she says Ithaca has hit a bit of a roadblock. According to city officials, high construction costs have caused significant gaps in funding. Gaps that have caused the city to apply for New York's Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant for the second year in a row.
"Ithaca is in a unique position right now," says Cornish. "We have nineteen projects ready to go right now. [And] we are seeing a lot of interest from the community for development."
Last year, the state awarded DRI money to Elmira.
However, Ithaca officials say they funding is still needed in the heart of their own city.
"If we got the $10 million, we could leverage that into $188 million in projects," says Cornish. "So that for us is at the heart of what the grant is asking -- is this going to actually revitalize your downtown?"
Earlier this week, Ithaca presented alongside Watkins Glen and Endicott. The state will now decide a winner.
"Many people familiar with the Southern Tier know we just redid our commons, which is a $15 million dollar project. We love it," says Cornish. "Now there are projects on The Commons if we can fill the funding gap."
Some of those projects include converting vacancies to housing and renovating upper-levels downtown.
All tasks the city says may be impossible to complete without a win.
"For any one of us [in the Southern Tier], it would be a winner," says Cornish. "But we're hoping it's us."
A final decision is expected to be made within the next month.