By Steve Dwyer
Fueled by state-sponsored Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) designations or other funding models, communities around New York City are discovering ways to garner crucial capital to enhance their civic positions as smaller “destination” spots to complement a large-size metropolis, demonstrating the ability to function in synergy with NYC’s myriad of attractions for residents and visitors.
One topic broached this summer as part of the NYCBP’s “Redevelopment Roundtable” during its committees and subcommittees deliberations was the city of Kingston seeking a grant package from the state’s Consolidated Funding Application Program. There’s no doubt that ambitious redevelopments occurring in proximity to NYC are poised to benefit NYC, albeit in an indirect fashion.
Reported on in late June, the city of Kingston, located in Ulster County about 90 miles north of New York City, had been very active in seeking state grants to help fund seven different projects, including the construction of a portion of the Kingston Point Rail Trail and improvements to Academy Green. Seeking them to the tune of more than $6 million, it’s been reported.
One grant that had been sought was to spearhead the development of a Brownfield Opportunity Area nomination for a section of its “Midtown”; another to fund a housing needs assessment and an inventory and analysis of existing conditions of residential properties within the Rondout Waterfront BOA.
There’s that catalyst term again—BOA. It’s proving to be a vital catalyst to ignite rebirth for a host of communities in the greater NYC metropolitan area that include Flushing, Queens (the city secured a BOA designation in 2018—making it one of 47 BOA awardees across the state), Kingston, and Glen Cove.
BOA establishment provides municipalities and community-based organizations with assistance, up to 90% of the eligible project costs, to complete revitalization plans and implementation strategies for areas or communities affected by the presence of brownfield sites, and site assessments for strategic brownfield sites.
The redevelopment scale occurring in and around New York City is a win-win for all. People visiting can opt to spend X-amount of their trip touring Manhattan, but are also free to escape to communities such as Kingston for side trips—now lured to areas that have used grant funds and BOA designations to construct amenities in their towns.
There continually seems to be an evolution bubbling up around BOA’s and Opportunity Zones, which is equally good news. In mid-September, Smart Growth America and the Rockefeller Foundation launched a new Opportunity Zones National Academy to help five cities harness this new tax incentive as a force for equitable growth that’s mutually beneficial for both investors and most importantly the people who live and do business in them.
Since 2017, Smart Growth America has been asking one question about the new Opportunity Zones tax incentive program created by Congress that’s causing trillions of dollars in new private investment to flow into 8,700-plus census tracts in communities around the country.
Something tells me that somewhere down the road, within the evolution of the Opportunity Zones National Academy, that entire greater New York City metropolitan area gets in on some of this action as well.