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$20 million in state funds headed to downtowns in Rochester, Newark

Brian Benjamin.jpg
James Brown
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin speaks to the media at Rochester City Hall, shortly after announcing $20 million in downtown revitalization funds are headed to the Finger Lakes region.

New York state has awarded Rochester $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Investment funds, which is expected to be spent in and around the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Avenue.

Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin made the announcement Thursday at City Hall, about a mile away from the site to be developed.

According to the state, the city’s plan will improve streetscapes and public spaces, upgrade facades, and increase pedestrian access all around the intersection.

Benjamin, who has been in Rochester the last few days, said the money will hopefully give downtown a boost as it seeks more investors in the area.

“It's a beautiful downtown, but that's a very clear eyesore, so let's invest, let's turn that around, and let Rochester continue to grow,” Benjamin said.

The building at that corner has long been in disrepair and has been the center of several high-profile projects that didn’t come through, like the failed Renaissance Square.

Rochester’s Mayor-elect Malik Evans called Main Street the heartbeat of the city. He said the blight must go.

“The way it looks is totally unacceptable, so we need to make sure that we transform that into an area that is welcoming and allows it to spur economic development,” Evans said.

Evans said investing in one corner is just one step. He’s seeking more funds from the state and through public and private partners to invest in other downtown projects, including the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

Downtown Newark in Wayne County is also receiving $10 million; officials there are also seeking private-sector investments.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.