Medina awaits word on $10 million grant from state

Courtesy of Village of Medina, DRI application: The Village of Medina wants to improve public access to the Medina Waterfalls by constructing an elevated platform from the towpath.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2019 at 1:43 pm

Funding would target economic development, housing, and waterfront

MEDINA – Village officials have been anxiously awaiting word from the Governor’s Office whether Medina will be awarded a $10 million grant through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Ten of those grants will be announced around the state. Gov. Cuomo has already announced five: Fulton in Central New York, Baldwin in Long Island, Peekskill in the Mid-Hudson, Hornell in the Southern Tier and the Niagara Falls Bridge District in WNY.

Medina is in the Finger Lakes region. This is the fourth round of the DRI, where communities submit applications and the state decides the winner. Previous $10 million grant winners in the Finger Lakes region include the City of Geneva in 2016, the City of Batavia in 2017 and the Village of Penn Yan last year.

‘Within the past few years, it has become increasingly evident that this historic and vibrant village has become a destination for young entrepreneurs, hastening a multifaceted commercial and cultural renaissance driven by considerable private investment.” – Chris Busch, Medina Planning Board chairman

Medina faces stiff competition for the $10 million. Some of the applicants include the Village of Waterloo, City of Canandaigua, Town of Seneca Falls and the Village of Newark.

Medina Mayor Michael Sidari said the community has put together a strong application. It benefitted from the work of committee that completed a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan to better utilize the Erie Canal, Oak Orchard Creek and Glenwood Lake.

The DRI program is intended to transform vulnerable, vacant or forgotten areas of the state into livable, walkable, dynamic neighborhoods.

Communities should show existing momentum with public and private investment in the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Medina was able to count $375 million in recent investment, led by Baxter which acquired the Medina operation of Sigma International for about $250 million and has spent another $10 million upgrading its facility in the Olde Pickle Factory.

“Medina has experienced outsized capital investment and job creation in recent years for a community of its size,” the village states in its application. “Companies like Fortune 500 Baxter have invested an estimated $10 million in local infrastructure and added 400 jobs since 2012, many of which pay more than $100,000 per year.

“Canadian firms like Brunner, Pride Pak, and Hinspergers leverage Medina to access US markets, while local investors have contributed more than $10 million to grow their own businesses and to restore some of the most historically significant properties in New York State. Funding from the DRI will allow Downtown Medina to build off these recent economic successes and will likely encourage additional private investment into our growing and diversifying economy.”

Photos by Tom Rivers: Medina officials believe the Canal Basin could be a bigger asset with more amenities for boaters and better entrances and seating areas on the rear sides of Main Street businesses.

Some of the recent investments in Medina include:

• $6 million at Bent’s Opera House, for restaurant, hotel and performing art space;

• $10 million by Brunner on a 48,000-square-foot expansion in 2014;

• $6.75 by Cobblestone Hotel for a new 10,567 square-foot building will include 58 hotel rooms, a 50-plus person conference room, and a bar.

• Hinspergers Poly Industries, multi-million investment, doubling the complex to its current 83,000 square-foot footprint.

• Newell Shirt Factory Building – $1.5 million historic restoration project converted an 1876 shirt factory into a trendy, upscale coffee shop and craft cocktail bar with law offices and extended-stay lofts on the upper floors.

• The Olde Pickle Factory (Fisher Price) – Nearly $8 million has been invested in this 430,000 square-foot facility to create a state-of-the-art facility that can house a diverse array of tenants.

• Pride Pak – $30 million in 2016 to construct a 68,000-square foot state-of-the-art facility for vegetable processing and packaging.

• Takeform has invested more than $10 million in the last 5 years in infrastructure, equipment, software technology, and human capital, and recently completed a 15,000 square-foot expansion to accommodate growth.

• BMP spent $1.8 million to double manufacturing space in 2004.

• Western New York Energy spent $90 million in 2006-07 to build the first ethanol plant in the Northeast United States.

• 414/416 Main Street – $750,000 investment to transform 9,000 square feet into a single-family home, co-working space and a restaurant (Mile 303).

• Village of Medina water and sewer upgrades at $8 million. The village has recently begun a $7.3 million upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant and completed a $800,000 upgrade to its water system. These investments will facilitate the expansion of the Medina Business Park and the growth of the village.

Medina wants to build off those successes and investments. Medina lists $29 million in projects. If the community’s $10 million application is approved, Medina will need to work with the state to determine how to divvy up the $10 million.

Medina wants to add pedestrian amenities to the pathway behind the buildings facing the Canal Basin.

Medina’s application lists the following projects to be considered for DRI funding:

Streetscape Improvements at an estimated $1 million in DRI funding

Medina wants to improve the downtown pedestrian experience through street furniture, landscaping, and crosswalk enhancements on Main Street and Pearl Street.

The village wants to enhance crosswalks; add more benches, bike racks, trash receptacles and pedestrian lighting; and plant more street trees and shrubs.

Rail with Trail, a multi-use trail along the Medina Railroad from the museum to Main Street, at an estimated DRI funding request of $200,000

The village wants to improve a gap within the pedestrian network and improve the connectivity from the Railroad Museum to the downtown. A “rail-with-trail” would create a multi-use path alongside the rail line.

The Canal Village Farmer’s Market would become a year-round market with a community kitchen, distillery and event space as part of a $3 million project, with $2.8 million in DRI funding

The market is in its fifth year at the northeast corner of West Center Street and West Avenue. The market, which is run by Orleans Renaissance Group, currently operates on select weekends throughout the year out of a small building and temporary stands in the parking lot.

The ORG is seeking to construct a large, enclosed structure to allow for continuous, year-round operation of the market. The structure will be anchored by three tenants: the farmer’s market with a community kitchen and exhibit space; a distillery or microbrewery on the second floor; and a rooftop event space.

Canal Basin Park – Improved waterfront access and amenities at the Canal Basin Park for $2 million, to be funded with the DRI.

The village in its application says the spot is hampered by an “overabundance of paved parking space and limited recreational access to the Erie Canal.” Medina wants to increase public access to the waterfront area and encourage recreational and passive use at this prime waterfront location.

Recommended improvements include:

• Installation of a pedestrian boardwalk along the rear facades of Main Street buildings;

• Conversion of the existing parking space into public greenspace with access to the Erie Canal;

• Construction of a promenade along the Erie Canal;

• Installation of boating docks on the Erie Canal;

• Comfort amenities, such as restrooms and showers;

• Crosswalk enhancements to improve pedestrian connection across East Center Street.

The village anticipates the changes would prompt building owners to “activate the rear facades of the buildings on Main Street, creating commercial opportunities on both sides of these structures and allowing for the development of new businesses.”

State Street Park – enhanced programming to make the park a year-round recreational destination, with an ice skating rink, enhanced lighting, boat tie-ups, benches and bicycle racks, and a construction of a nature trail at a $600,000 cost, with the DRI funding $500,000.

The installation of motor boat tie-ups will allow boaters on the canal to join in on the enjoyment of local musicians’ performances at the bandstand during the summer months while the ice skating rink will allow for winter activities and encourage continued use of the park even during the off-season, the village stated in its application.

Lions Park Boater Access – The village seeks $250,000 for the DRI to install boat tie-ups and docking facilities at the Lions Park near the Route 63 lift bridge.

The village, in its application, says boater amenities and docking infrastructure are limited within Medina. Throughout the community engagement process, the public consistently expressed a need for additional boater amenities along the waterfront.

This project also includes the creation of a fitness trail through Lions Park, with various pieces of fitness equipment located along the trail.

Medina Falls Overlook – The village wants to better utilize the Medina waterfalls by adding a viewing platform and overlook off the Erie Canalway Trail, near the Horan Road Bridge. The project would cost an estimated $1.9 million with the DRI funding $1.5 million.

“Medina Falls is one of the Village’s stunning natural wonders,” according to the village’s application. “Its 40-foot drop dazzles onlookers and makes a great challenge for any kayakers willing to brave it. The scenic Falls, however, lacks an easily accessible viewing point and is obscured by brush, foliage, and a significant grade change that can be dangerous for interested onlookers to traverse.”

Wayfinding Signage – Install a cohesive and well-branded system of wayfinding and directional signs at a cost of $200,000 with the DRI funding $150,000.

The signs would direct visitors to the Erie Canal, Waterfalls, public parking and other resources. Medina wants to add gateway signs, directional signs, kiosks and interpretive signs, light pole banners and identification signs for destinations and parking areas.

Small Grant Fund – This fund will support economic-development related activities through the distribution of small grants to local businesses and investors. Medina would like a $900,000 fund with the DRI paying $600,000.

The fund is intended to support projects that retain jobs, generate increased economic activity, and improve the economic viability and livability of Downtown Medina. Eligible projects could include historic rehabilitation and repair, facade improvements, land acquisition, new construction, and event programming.

Mustang City: Adaptive Reuse of the old Medina High School – A $9 million project with the DRI request at $3 million.

A developer, Talis Equity, seeks to transform 90,000 square feet into 40 loft apartments. Mustang City will fulfill Medina’s need for additional housing options and will allow for a new kind of “maintenance-free” living, with amenities and services including grocery delivery, cleaning, and laundry pickup. Just steps from the Erie Canal and downtown’s restaurants, shops and nightlife, Mustang City will provide attractive living options for anyone from young entrepreneurs to retirees, according to the village’s DRI application.

Snappy’s Mixed-Use Development: This project at $1.8 million includes a $1 million DRI request. It would redevelop the Snappy facility on Commercial Street by the Erie Canal into a mixed-use commercial and residential space. The property could be redeveloped with the first floor for commercial uses and the second floor for residential.

The Marina on Main would transform four storefronts on Main Street.

Marina On Main – This project at 333-339 Main St. would create a canal-side indoor and outdoor event space at an estimated cost of $1.65 million. The DRI request is for $1 million.

Marina on Main is envisioned as an upscale, multi-use event center with both indoor and outdoor seating to cater to a variety of events and special occasions including weddings, reunions, and other large gatherings for 200-plus guests. The ground floor is envisioned as a mixed-use space with connectivity to the canal.

This project proposed by the Zambito family will revitalize and repurpose four underutilized storefronts along Main Street. It will also improve the rear facades along the canal, which presently detract from the pedestrian experience along the trail.

Walsh Hotel Mixed-Use Redevelopment – The building at 525 West Ave. would be rehabilitated and redeveloped, creating a mix of apartments and hotel rooms. The project is an estimated $1 million with the DRI request at $600,000.

Tim Cooper is working to turn the 9,400-square-foot building to include either 8 apartments, 6 to 8 hotel rooms, or a combination of both on the 2 upper floors. The ground floor will house The O’Brien & Ceallaigh Bar and Lounge.

Medina Railroad Museum Campus – The $1.5 million project seeks $1.2 million in DRI to create a welcome center on Main Street and courtyard space.

The Medina Railroad Museum is one of the largest tourism drivers in the village, drawing approximately 40,000 people annually. The museum wants to expand its footprint and to create more of a campus-like complex. The campus will extend east from the existing museum building to the old train station near Main Street, creating a visible and intriguing presence along the main thoroughfare.

The train station building, which is owned by the village, will act as a welcome center and small exhibit space, attracting people off Main Street and to the museum (while the senior citizen’s center that presently occupies this space will be relocated to City Hall).

A landscaped pedestrian plaza will connect the train station to the existing museum building.

On the southern side of the tracks, the campus plan calls for the creation of a park-like courtyard space adjacent to the library. This courtyard will include the installation of two, permanent dining cars – to be rented out for weddings and other events – as well as an enclosed pole barn building, which will be used to store and repair cars.

The campus is intended to strengthen the museum’s position in the village, to enhance its status as a regional tourism generator, and to bring visitors into downtown.

Medina Hotel and Conference Center – This $4 million project includes $2 million in the DRI. It would repurpose the former Dipson Diana Theater (currently Medina Theater) into a conference center at 601-611 Main St.

The theater sits underutilized in a prime location on Main Street. This project by the Cardone family proposes to stabilize and restore the theater and to transform it and the adjacent former warehouse into a conference center and hotel complex.

The former 7,900 square-foot theater will be converted into a large event space with capacity for more than 350 people and will also feature a restaurant in the ground floor. The adjacent 20,000 square-foot former warehouse will be converted into a hotel to accommodate conference-goers and other visitors.

“Within the past few years, it has become increasingly evident that this historic and vibrant village has become a destination for young entrepreneurs, hastening a multifaceted commercial and cultural renaissance driven by considerable private investment,” wrote Chris Busch, Medina Planning Board chairman, in a letter of support for the application.

The rear side of businesses on Main Street, facing the Erie Canal, would benefit with better facades, seating areas and a path for pedestrians.

“Medina’s ‘renaissance’ and revitalization has and will continue to attract young families, tourists, culture seekers, trail, cyclist and history enthusiasts, recreational boaters and entrepreneurs seeking to invest and grow in a thriving community.”

Busch said a $10 million DRI grant would be “a transformative breakthrough event in the economy of Medina and the region.”

He praised the Medina officials and community leaders for putting together the application and presenting a vision for the community.

“Medina’s successful application for DRI funding will without a doubt, lead to dramatic improvement in the regions’ key economic indicators of job creation, continued private investment, expansion of tourism, and increase of tax revenues, as well as the preservation of vital cultural and historic assets,” Busch said in his letter of support.

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