MIDDLETOWN — Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) toured downtown Middletown Tuesday afternoon, to see the progress since the city was awarded the $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funding.
After touring businesses at the new Rail Trail Commons, the site of the old Woolworth building, Hochul said its time people get out and start visiting Middletown. The Lt. Governor acknowledged the difficult situation small businesses are coming out of and suggested as long as people are following safety guidelines, it’s the right time to get back and start patronizing these businesses.
“They’ve been through a lot, but now I see here today a lot of businesses are starting to open. They’re feeling more comfortable. They’ve been following the guidelines and making sure we keep the infection rate down, so that’s the word I want to get out to people,” said Hochul. “If they’re following the Governor’s guidelines and being smart about it, it’s very safe to be able to come to places like Middletown to have a recreational hike, take a walk, ride your bike, visit the downtowns, go into a new chocolate shop- there’s a lot of things to do here. It’s time to leave your homes if you’re wearing your mask and being socially distant,” she said.
Middletown’s mayor Joseph DeStefano said businesses like Painted Horse Chocolates, Oak and Reed and Farmer Bakers, along with the other downtown improvements, parks, the rail trail, and other private developments have shown the state an approximately four-fold return on their DRI investment.
“They saw the effects of leveraging that $10 million,” said DeStefano. “That investment that Governor Cuomo made into our community has now spurred about an additional $20 million in economic development, plus an additional $20 million dollars of purchases of buildings in and around our downtown. People are renovating and private money is coming in,” he said.
According to DeStefano, three downtown businesses have closed since the pandemic, five more have cropped up, with an additional five waiting for approval. This is including the Rail Trail Commons, which currently hosts new, open businesses.
He said the development is going to continue in October with an $18 million traffic operations overhaul that is approximately 80 percent funded from the Fed, with an additional $2.7 million coming from a grant through U.S. Senator Schumer’s (D-NY) office.