Albany pumps $10M into a new downtown Hicksville

New look: Hicksville today (just kidding, this is the 1950s) will not look like Hicksville tomorrow, thanks in part to the state's Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Hicksville has won the regional round of New York State’s second-annual $100 million downtown-redevelopment contest.

The Nassau County hamlet in the Town of Oyster Bay will pocket $10 million in a ceremony scheduled to be hosted Wednesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Hicksville beat out nearly two dozen Long Island municipalities vying for the regional award, which is managed by the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, one of many competitive-funding programs launched by Cuomo.

The $10 million prize will be used to finalize Hicksville’s Strategic Investment Plans and otherwise advance the hamlet’s revitalization strategy.

Howard Zemsky: It takes a village.

The Village of Westbury was last year’s winner. A total of 10 communities are selected annually around the state.

Oyster Bay town officials already have a detailed plan for redeveloping almost 150 acres of the business district around Hicksville’s Long Island Rail Road station, which is being readied for a $120 million rehab by the MTA. The town’s broader renewal plan includes increased building heights, as many as 500 apartments and various “smart growth” amenities.

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative is managed by Empire State Development, Albany’s main economic-development engine. Empire State Development President and CEO Howard Zemsky said the teamwork necessary to cultivate a winning strategy in the annual funding contest is “a cornerstone of our approach to economic development.”

“Last year, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative was a great success,” Zemsky, also ESD’s commissioner, said when Round 2 opened in May. “This second round will help even more communities create vibrant, walkable downtowns that are a magnet for the young, well-educated people and innovative businesses that strengthen and diversify local economies.”

Criteria considered in Round 2 applications included compact designs with “well-defined boundaries;” sufficient size and scope to support year-round activity; the ability to capitalize on prior downtown-redevelopment investments, and attract future ones; and “recent or impending job growth within or in close proximity” to the downtown area, according to the governor’s office.

Other factors – including “open and robust community engagement” on downtown-redevelopment strategies and being “a livable community for diverse populations of all ages” – were also prized.

The Round 2 winners will be expected to complete their Strategic Investment Plans by early 2018.

Hicksville’s big win was first reported by Long Island Business News.

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