Amsterdam gets $10 million grant

Sen. George Amedore, left, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Amsterdam Mayor MIke Villa, and Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort, right, announced Wednesday that Amsterdam is the winner of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

AMSTERDAM — After two failed attempts, the city, on its third try is the Mohawk Valley winner of the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul made the announcement Wednesday that Amsterdam is the region’s winner of the 2018 DRI and is the recipient of $10 million that will help with the rebirth of the city.

“I am so honored to announce that you, Amsterdam, people of this community, are the recipients of a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Award from the state of New York,” Hochul said. “I realize $10 million in a community the size of Amsterdam is literally transformative and I cannot wait to see the work that will continue to unfold and I want to thank the individuals who put their heart and soul into this and lessons learned from past applications and find with us practices that understand our objective is to bring back downtowns to make them fantastic places to live, to work, to play.”

Amsterdam Mayor Michael Villa said momentum is building in Amsterdam and now is the time for revitalization.

“Our vision for downtown is not to rebuild the former downtown,” Villa continued. “But to build a new, diverse, sustainable downtown model in addition to the typical retail aspect. We are incorporating crucial mixed-use components to create a successful year-round downtown including housing, recreation, education, employment and community facilities.”

State Sen. George Amedore said he always thinks back on the stories his grandfather would tell him about the “heyday” of the city and how flourishing it once was, but economic conditions changed, causing the city to lose the “sizzle” it once had.

“I credit Mayor Villa, and I credit County Executive [Matthew] Ossenfort for working together as a team, putting together a plan that has great vision, with keen ingredients of good housing, of economic status, strong public safety, having a great school district,” Amedore said. “The city of Amsterdam can bring back that sizzle that it had. It didn’t fizzle out, but it’s going to keep moving forward.”

State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said a lot has happened in Amsterdam and the DRI will support the on-going recovery of Amsterdam.

He said he likes to look at this announcement as a historical moment.

“We’ve seen how these projects jumpstart development, they bring new investments,” Santabarbara said. “This investment will lead to more investments for years to come. The best part is local jobs. It generates jobs. It brings new people to our community.”

Ossenfort thanked everyone who helped with the initiative.

“We did not hit it out of the park on the first swing. We’ve had setbacks. We’ve had failures. We didn’t win this twice,” Ossenfort said. “We even got some pretty serious criticism which is part of the process. We held together, we learned from our mistakes and we got stronger, and now we put an application in worthy of a $10 million award.”

The $10 million will be used for various projects stated in Amsterdam’s 44-page winning application. Some of these projects include:

In the South Anchor will be the Chalmers Mill Lofts, which will feature a mixed-use housing development, a boardwalk along the river, outdoor community space and market and a 300-seat event banquet facility.

In the North Anchor, the Amsterdam Free Library will create a new Makerspace, add a small kitchen, proper ventilation for its 3D printer, a laser cutter and a screen print machine. There will also be two to three smaller, private meeting rooms, a small recording room, a large conference room and an art gallery, all for community use.

In the East Anchor will be the Community and Recreation Center. This project will provide multiple buildings and outdoor space to offer the community facilities for arts, education and recreation.

In the West Anchor, the Multi-Modal Center project will relocate the existing Amtrak station that exists outside of the downtown. This project will provide space for rail services, bus services, car share services, taxi service and bicycle facilities. This would bring transportation and economic development to the downtown.

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