By JOHN JORDAN
TARRYTOWN—The Mid-Hudson Valley region is engaged in a high-stakes contest that could pump more than $500 million into the regional economy next year.
At press time, economic development and government officials are anxiously awaiting the news of when Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce the fifth round of Consolidated Funding Application awards. Since its formation by Gov. Cuomo in 2011, the awards designations are highly sought after by the respective 10 regional councils. Last year, Gov. Cuomo announced in December that the Mid-Hudson region earned the “Top Performer” award and was granted $82.8 million, appropriated to some 118 projects. State officials said this year’s awards designation event will be held in the late fall.
In addition to the CFA funding, Gov. Cuomo announced he would award a total of $1.5 billion in bank settlement funds as part of his Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Those funds will be divvied up into three grants of $500 million each to three regional councils. Meghan Taylor, regional director for the Mid-Hudson Region for Empire State Development Corp. said that the New York City, Long Island and Western New York regions were declared ineligible for URI funds, thus leaving seven regions to compete for the three $500-million awards.
“This year there was an unprecedented amount of funding being directed to the Regional Council process with more resources available, leading to more opportunities to increase economic growth and the quality
of life in the ten regions,” Ms. Taylor said. Ms. Taylor added the CFA funding will include a total of $150 million in Empire State Development capital grant funding; $70 million in Excelsior tax credits and $530 million in additional funding from various state agencies, including programs from the Department of Labor, Office of General Services, and Homes and Community Renewal. However, she said if the Mid-Hudson did secure one of the $500-million Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards, it could still compete for a portion of the $150 million in Empire State Capital grants, but would be ineligible for the tax credits and $530 million in other state agency funding.
If the Mid-Hudson were not to secure the $500-million upstate award, she said, it would then have the opportunity to secure up to $110 million in the CFA competition.
The Mid-Hudson Regional Council has based this year’s and prior years’ priority project submissions based on four core goals: investment in technology (encompassing the biotech, biomedical, health care, information technology and advanced manufacturing industries); attracting and retaining mature industries ( financials and professional services, food and beverage, and distribution sectors); growing natural resources (agriculture, waterfront development, tourism and arts and culture); and revitalizing the region’s infrastructure.
The Mid-Hudson Regional Council submitted its 2015 Progress Report to the state in Albany in October, which included its recommendation of 24 proposed capital fund priority projects. In addition, the council in its 208-page submission, laid out its ve-year strategy and potential projects for funding if it received the $500-million Upstate Revitalization Initiative awards.
The council, working with the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, developed a “live, work, play” concept that embraces the council’s previously stated four core goals.
The 24 priority CFA projects includes Merlin Entertainments’ Legoland amusement park project. The state awarded the project $3.1 million in last year’s CFA competition. Recently, the town of Haverstraw informed Merlin that it would not consider the project, which had been proposed to be developed at the Letchworth Village property in Haverstraw and Stony Point. Ms. Taylor confirmed that the state is trying to convince Legoland to build the project in New York State, and Orange County is aggressively pursuing the venture at sites there (see story on page 12). She said Legoland is also considering sites in New Jersey and Virginia for its
$250-million project that would also include a hotel and water park. Legoland is seeking further state funding for infrastructure and demolition costs in connection with the project. However, its application with the state is for the Letchworth Village site. It is not known if the project’s current status would adversely affect the possible award.
Other major priority projects include Vassar Brothers Medical Center Patient Pavilion project to be built in Poughkeepsie, NY. According to the council’s submission, the more than $437-million project would create 750 construction jobs. The Foundation for Vassar Brothers Medical Center is seeking more than $87 million in state funding. Another significant project is the SoYo mixed-use, transit-oriented development to be built in Yonkers. The nearly $200-million project being developed by a venture of Rising Development and RXR Realty would include 442 residential units, 40,000 square feet of street retail and restaurants and 500 new parking spaces on property
near Van der Dock Park on the Hudson River waterfront. The application for the project’s second phase requests $5 million in state funding on top of the $1 million it has already secured.
Other significant endeavors in the region tabbed as priority projects include the $94.6-million mixed-use Bellefield at Hyde Park project to be built across from the Culinary Institute of America. The Dutchess County-based project’s first phase is to feature two hotels, a 15,000-square-foot conference center, a 15,000-square-foot spa as well as retail establishments and other amenities. The project will eventually include 48,000 square feet of retail space and 40 market rate rental apartments. The applicant—T-Rex Hyde Park Owner, LLC—is seeking a total of $18 million in state funding for the project.
Some of the infrastructure improvement related initiatives among the council’s priority projects include an application by the City of Middletown toward infrastructure improvements at the former Middletown Psychiatric
Center campus. The $11.5-million in requested state funding will leverage $600,000 in city funding and a $28-million investment for the establishment of the Fei Tian Academy of the Arts and the Fei Tian College at the property. The city intends to redevelop the 232acre campus for multiple uses including recreational, general office, health care educational and light industrial uses. Part of the requested funding will be used to develop a master plan for the property.
The Town of New Windsor is seeking $1.62 million in state funding in connection with its planned $14.1-million Stewart International Airport Infrastructure Improvement Project. The various upgrades at the property to the current infrastructure, some of which is nearly 50-years old, will allow for further commercial and airport expansion. Also, additional tracts of land will become available for future commercial development due to the infrastructure improvements.
Ironworkers Local No. 417’s proposed new training center in the Town of Wallkill in Orange County also made the priority project list. The union is seeking $434,000 in state funds to help pay for the $2.17 million training facility that would replace its current center, which the union states it has outgrown.
Among some of the key initiatives proposed as part of its application for the $500-million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award, the council would look to create a regional $500-million Urban Center Capital Investment Fund. According to its submission, the council is seeking $125 million toward the fund.
Helping the council in its selection of priority projects for both the CFA and URI funding are a number of working groups. Among the council’s Infrastructure Committee includes Ross Pepe, president of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley, Inc.; Alan Seidman, executive director, Construction Contractors Association of Newburgh, NY; Paul Ryan, president of the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body; James Taylor, Jr., of Taylor BioMass, LLC of Montgomery, NY; L. Todd Diorio, business manager of Laborers Local No. 17 of Newburgh, NY; and Sam Fratto, business manager of IBEW Local 363 in Harriman, NY.
In its submission, the council stated, it would “utilize the Urban Center Investment Fund to invest in projects related to locally supported Main Street, Downtown, Waterfront, urban agriculture and TOD initiatives in cities and villages around the region. The MHREDC believes that its investment in these projects will leverage private investment valued at hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. These projects will stimulate community reinvestment, returning vitality and economic activity to these places.”
The council also is looking to increase its physical capacity for tourism and visitation venues. The council is seeking $74 million in state URI funding for what it estimates as a $1.7-billion initiative to “use public and private solutions to address critical transportation gaps to enhance traveler experience and facilitate workforce job access, make the most of our world class opportunities for tour boats and water services and provide diverse accommodations and destinations for broad visitor appeal.” Also tourism related is the proposed creation of experimental centers that would drive tourism growth. The rst such experimental center would be located at Exit 106 off Route 17/I-86 at a cost of $5.8 billion. The council envisions these centers would replace the conventional visitors center and would be located throughout the seven county region. The council would pay for the $50-million initiative with $40 million in URI funds. The council would also spend $15 million in URI funding for its planned $60-million effort to expand its food and beverage sectors.
Other funding for the URI grants include $58 million for funding for high tech projects; $48 million for funding of live work innovation, co-working and incubation space; and $43 million in workforce high-tech training programs.