State announces Oneida DRI projects to move forward
ONEIDA — The fate of a “game-changing” investment of nearly $10 million in the city of Oneida was announced on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse.
The City of Syracuse, specifically its "Southwest Gateway District," is also a separate recipient of DRI funding and received the news of which of its projects will get funded through the state grant.
Eight projects submitted by the Oneida Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) Local Planning Committee (LPC) will be moving forward. The projects are as follows:
1. Reimagine the vacant Hotel Oneida as a multifunctional event space
Funding: $2,900,000. To rehabilitate the hotel to provide new downtown mixed-use space including several apartments, a restaurant, pub, and banquet space.
2. Restore and upgrade the historic Devereaux building
Funding: $1,569,000. Restore the Devereaux building into a mixed-use residential, retail, and commercial development space.
3. Improve downtown infrastructure and streetscaping
Funding: $1,521,000. Improve and resurface portions of the downtown including parts of Main Street, Broad Street, Madison Street, Farrier Avenue, and Vanderbilt Avenue, with bicycle infrastructure added to Sconondoa Street.
4. Redevelop the Lerman building for commercial and residential uses
Funding: $1,141,000. Utilize the building’s 20,000 square feet to create townhouse style apartments and commercial spaces and expand the existing Oneida co-work space to include new offices and a conference room.
5. Upgrade facilities at Veteran’s Memorial Park
Funding: $1,059,000. Install an ADA splash pad and pickleball court, and implement repairs and upgrades for bathhouse facilities. In addition, develop a new memorial area at Veteran's Memorial Playfield.
6. Develop Area Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) soccer fields
Funding: $760,000. Build soccer fields and parking areas on a former flood site for downtown area sports.
7. Develop a downtown business assistance fund
Funding: $600,000. Create a matching grant fund for facade improvements and interior improvements including heavy equipment and permanent installations. The fund will be administered by Madison County.
8. Establish a form-based zoning overlay district
Funding: $100,000. Create a form-based code overlay district for the DRI area to ensure that future development meets the aesthetic intent of the city.
“This is a very exciting day,” said Oneida Mayor Helen Acker. “With both the government and private partnership, which will extend, this is the single largest investment in Oneida’s history.”
In her speech, Acker thanked a list of officials and constituents who helped in the DRI process, including three particular players who were key to its success: Cassie Rose (now-retired Oneida planning director), Barbara Henderson (Oneida community development assistant), and Paul Marco (citizen and private investor).
“Without these three people, I would not be standing here today. They worked their butts off to get this, and they did a great job,” Acker remarked.
Funding for these projects will help lift Oneida up after hard times, Acker said. “Oneida’s struggled in the past 40 years with a lot of fires that took out a lot of beautiful, beautiful, historic buildings downtown. And back on June 28 of 2013 we had a massive flood from Sandy that affected 225 homes, and 134 of them are gone.”
The upcoming AYSO soccer fields will be in place of where nearly 15 homes once stood.
“I’m still flying high up here. It’s a wonderful thing,” Acker said of the DRI funding announcement. “We are just so fortunate to have this happen to Oneida.”
Oneida City Supervisor Matthew Roberts and member of the LPC stated, “This is just the start.” Once you build and improve parts of the downtown, that invites even more investment, he said. “I see many millions of dollars more invested privately. Sort of like the old field of dreams, if you build it, they will come. I’m really excited.”
He continued, “I’m excited for the next generation who’s going to enjoy the fruits of the labor of everyone here today. Oneida is going to be a better place to visit.”
Referring to the kids who are excited about the upcoming soccer fields, Acker said, “They’re our future, and we want to invest in their future.”
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