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Rome outlines downtown revitalization projects after winning $10 million

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Gov. Andrew Cuomo with Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky.

The city of Rome has outlined how it plans to spend the $10 million award it received through New York State's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. A number of transformative projects focus on key topics the state wants to highlight.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated Monday that redesigning downtown areas will attract young people and jobs.

“The businesses are coming," Cuomo said. "The businesses will come. We have to now have the community that attracts the youth and the talent.”

Empire State Development Chair Howard Zemsky said upstate has been fighting against 40 years of decline and for the first time, he thinks they are succeeding.

"Many of the initiatives that are in your plan are focused on downtown and creating green spaces, complete streets or transit oriented development, arts, entrepreneurship, culture," Zemsky said. "It's all part of the recipe of economic development that we have been practicing together."

Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo said Rome won the top prize in the state’s redevelopment competition because it hit all the right buttons.

“We had job creation, advanced manufacturing, arts and culture, tourism, transportation, walkability," Izzo said. "We tried to build all of those. And the fact that we had projects ready to go. That was the major factor.”

Some of the projects include restoring the Capitol Theatre, demolishing one parking garage and modernizing another and expanding City Hall. Izzo said they will also help Cold Point heating and cooling manufacturing to move and expand downtown, which will bring 45 jobs.

“It’s also going to allow us to do a lot of neighborhood improvement in that area too, as well as for neighboring manufacturers,” Izzo said.

Downtown Rome will get an ice-skating rink, concert stage, Centro transfer station and a renovation to the Rome-Utica Creative Arts Incubator. Last year, Watertown, Cortland and eight other communities also each won $10 million in downtown revitalization funding.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.