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SUNY Plattsburgh

Downtown Revitalization Initiative

Village of Potsdam and Saranac Lake, New York

Downtown Potsdam and Saranac Lake were selected as the North Country winners of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) during the third and fourth rounds of the program. The DRI is downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities. Each year, the program invested $100 million into 10 additional downtown neighborhoods across the State. Participating communities were nominated by the State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown’s potential for transformation, and each community was awarded $10 million to develop a downtown Strategic Investment Plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community’s vision for revitalization.

MJ was the prime consultant leading in the development of a Strategic Investment Plan that serves as the formal application for DRI funds, framing projects within core revitalization strategies and identifying implementation strategies for each project, including local entities responsible for project execution.

Village of Potsdam

MJ served as prime consultant for round four of the DRI in the Village of Potsdam. The firm was tasked with developing a plan to revitalize Potsdam’s downtown community. A portion of this project involved development of concept designs and cost estimates for Potsdam’s Riverwalk trail and streetscape enhancements along its downtown corridor, including Main, Market, and Elm Streets. Proposed projects included new technologies such as LED street lighting, green stormwater management practices, and multi-modal design guidelines, along with more traditional design efforts such as sidewalk replacement, street furniture, trees and other landscaping features. The plan advanced the village’s preservation efforts, prominence in the arts, streetscape and waterfront improvements, and support for traditional and new technology businesses to create a mixed-use downtown where nature and culture coexist. MJ also developed an interactive story map for this project. The interactive web map included photos and text detailing the priority projects within the downtown community that were recommended for funding. The map gave the viewer a stronger sense of place, illustrates spatial relationships, and adds visual appeal and credibility to the proposed projects under consideration.

Village of Saranac Lake

Within a condensed and expedited time frame, MJ identified dozens of priority projects across the community to be recommended for DRI funding. From this, a Strategic Investment Plan was developed that served as the formal application for DRI funds. The plan included a downtown profile detailing past and current investments and opportunities. Public engagement was a key component of the planning process and fundamental to its success. The objective of public engagement was to ensure that all stakeholders had ample opportunity to know and understand the DRI process and its intended outcomes; to comment on the study as it progressed; to express concerns and contribute ideas; and participate in building a consensus about the vision for the Downtown. The plan focused on leveraging Saranac Lake’s natural assets to grow and strengthen the waterfront community and support future economic development. Priority projects identified  included completion of the Saranac Riverwalk; enhancements to Riverfront Park, Riverside Park, Berkeley Green Park, William Morris Park, and Ward-Plumadore Park; and construction of the Saranac Lake Whitewater Park.

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