In July 2016, Elmira won a $10 million grant to revitalize its downtown. The city says projects are on their way to starting soon.
Revitalizing the downtown area is something residents say they have been long awaiting.
Diane and Mark Woodhouse are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Mark was born in Elmira, and Diane has been living in Elmira since 1971.
However, today they remember a much different Downtown Elmira.
“Buildings were all along the river, there were downtown stores,” Diane Woodhouse recalls.
“I remember it when there were a lot of factories, well kept, neat little neighborhoods,” Mark Woodhouse said.
The Woodhouse’s say they are always rooting for the city to make its come back.
Jennifer Miller, Director of Community Development, says the projects awarded for the $10 million grant are close to getting started.
“One involves the West Water Street re-development project, which involves the mix use of over 50 units, and over 16,000 square feet of commercial space,” Miller said.
The West Water St. project was given 4 million dollars of D.R.I. money. Miller says they received the grant agreements from the state last week.
The city also has been working with New York State Homes and Community Renewal to renovate downtown buildings and assist small businesses. The D.R.I. will give $1.75 million towards this.
As an incentive to get small businesses to the downtown area, Miller says the D.R.I will also be giving $15,000 in grants to new small businesses or existing but expanding businesses.
“It’s not working capital for a business or assisting a business that may be in trouble,” Miller said. “It’s for someone who is expanding but needs some extra funds.”
Residents, like the Woodhouses, hope these projects will soon bring Downtown Elmira to the thriving place it once was.
“The people are hungry for that,” Mark Woodhouse said.