Governor Hochul Announces Dunkirk as the $10 Million Western New York Winner of Sixth-Round Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Government and Politics

January 23, 2023

From: New York Governor Kathy Hochul

Downtown Revitalization Investments are a Critical Part of the State's Comprehensive Economic Development and Community Growth Strategy

State to Work with Residents, Community Leaders and Public Officials to Revitalize Dunkirk's Downtown

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the City of Dunkirk will receive $10 million in funding as the Western New York winner of the sixth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. For DRI Round 6, each of the state's 10 economic development regions are being awarded $10 million, to make for a total state commitment of $100 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.

"We are writing a new chapter of opportunity and prosperity for Western New York - prioritizing investments that will make the region a better place to live and visit," Governor Hochul said. "This funding will transform Dunkirk by activating the city's waterfront, creating inclusive workforce housing and expanding economic development opportunities. We will continue to invest in Western New York's revitalization efforts, which will help bring a renewed sense of hope to its communities."

The DRI serves as a component of the State's economic development policy by transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract businesses, jobs and economic and housing diversity. Like past DRI rounds, each selected community will develop a strategic plan through a bottom-up, community-based planning process that articulates a vision for the revitalization of its downtown and identifies a list of signature projects that have transformative potential and leverage further private and public investments. The Department of State will then award DRI funds to selected projects with the greatest potential to jumpstart revitalization and realize the community's vision.


Dunkirk seeks to harness its connection to Lake Erie to attract new investment, activate its waterfront and serve as a conduit for redevelopment of its historic business district. New investment combined with past investments will create a robust environment for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic downtown buildings and infill development that incorporates mixed-income residential opportunities. Dunkirk's vision is to amplify the city's unique sense of place with a genuine and authentic experience that will be catalytic for future organic growth and will foster development that is inclusive while embracing its strong heritage and ethnic diversity. Through this vision, Dunkirk will meet the needs of its diverse and strong manufacturing base as well as its future digital and new biopharma employers.

The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council conducted a thorough and competitive review process of proposals submitted from communities throughout the region and considered all the criteria below before recommending Dunkirk as the nominee:

    Downtown is compact, with well-defined boundaries;
    Downtown can capitalize on prior, or catalyze future private and public investment;
    Recent or impending job growth within, or close to, the downtown that can attract workers, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
    Downtown is an attractive and livable community for diverse populations;
    Municipality already embraces, or has the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life;
    Municipality conducted open and robust community engagement resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives;
    Municipality has the local capacity to manage the DRI process; and
    Municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for near-term implementation with an infusion of DRI funds.

Dunkirk has been awarded $10 million in state funding and investments to revitalize its downtown neighborhood and generate new opportunities for long-term growth following the local planning process. Dunkirk joins the communities of Jamestown, Olean, Lockport, Niagara Falls Bridge District, North Tonawanda and Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood, which were Western New York's winners in the first five DRI rounds.

We are writing a new chapter of opportunity and prosperity for Western New York - prioritizing investments that will make the region a better place to live and visit.
Governor Kathy Hochul

Dunkirk will begin the process of developing a Strategic Investment Plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. A Local Planning Committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other stakeholders will lead the eort, supported by a team of private sector experts and state planners. The Strategic Investment Plan will examine local assets and opportunities to identify economic development, transportation, housing, and community projects that align with each community's vision for downtown revitalization and that are poised for implementation. The Strategic Investment Plan will guide the investment of DRI grant funds in revitalization projects that will advance the community's vision for its downtown and that can leverage and expand upon the state's $10 million investment. Plans for the DRI's sixth round will be complete in 2023.

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "New York's Downtown Revitalization Initiative has created a renaissance in downtown resurgence that shows no signs of slowing down, and Dunkirk is the next city to benefit from this innovative program. With this funding, Dunkirk will work to develop projects that activate the Lake Erie Waterfront and connect it to downtown, transforming this neighborhood into a vibrant hub of activity for residents and visitors alike and generating sustainable economic growth for generations to come."

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Dunkirk's future is as expansive as its Lake Erie views, validated by recent private and public investments that confirm the powerful potential of a shoreline city with a historic business district. DRI funding will enhance that vision, by funding projects that will further catalyze economic development and fuel the vibrancy of this waterfront community."

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said,“Now in its sixth round, New York’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is successfully enhancing quality of life, spurring new business growth, and increasing the vibrancy of our downtown districts.  This $10 million investment in Dunkirk will help the city accommodate a growing and diverse workforce with mixed income housing opportunities, complementing Governor Hochul’s new Housing Compact proposal to expand the supply of affordable housing in all communities across the state. Congratulations to Dunkirk for this achievement that will benefit all who call the city home.”

Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair Eric Reich said, "New York State's community-driven DRI program is transforming our downtown neighborhoods into vibrant hubs, and we are pleased to see the City of Dunkirk announced as Western New York's latest DRI recipient. The city will now get to work on a strategic plan aimed at attracting investment, reenergizing the waterfront and redeveloping the historic business district. Dunkirk has an exciting future, and we can't wait to see the city reach its potential."

State Senator George Borrello said, "This is great news for Dunkirk and all of Chautauqua County. This $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant will enable Dunkirk to pursue its vision as a gateway to Chautauqua County and a destination for business, industry and tourism. This investment will enable Dunkirk to redevelop its waterfront and business district to capitalize on the city's historic connection to Lake Erie. It will pave the way for private investment and generate new opportunities for long-term growth in Dunkirk and surrounding communities. Dunkirk is one of only 10 communities across New York to receive a $10 million DRI award. That's a testament to the vision of the city of Dunkirk and its citizens. I want to congratulate Mayor Rosas and thank Gov. Hochul and New York State for recognizing the need to support communities in Western New York as they reinvent themselves and build a brighter future for our residents."

Assemblymember Andy Goodell said, "Governor Hochul delivered great news to the City of Dunkirk in announcing a $10 million downtown revitalization grant. This grant will be a tremendous benefit in helping Dunkirk revitalize its downtown and generate long-term growth and opportunities aimed at making its downtown strong and vibrant."
Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosa said, "The City of Dunkirk is so very grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul for the New York State investment in the revitalization of Downtown Dunkirk. The DRI will provide funding to leverage prior investment in our Lake Erie waterfront and establish Dunkirk as a regional destination. We will continue the investment up Central Avenue that will reverberate throughout Dunkirk. Thank you Governor Hochul for giving Dunkirk the support our transformative vision that will make a difference."

About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative "plan-then-act" strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State's bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.

In the first five years of the program, the state committed $600 million investing in 59 downtowns ripe for revitalization and that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation, greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments.