December 1, 2021

Hochul tours downtown

Lieutenant governor says Cortland’s future is bright

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul tours downtown Cortland with Mayor Brian Tobin. Hochul visited Cortland for a ribbon cutting ceremony Monday at 51-55 Main St.

CORTLAND — Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul toured downtown Cortland Monday morning, sharing her vision for the future of the downtown, one that includes traffic circles and rooftop dining, with City Mayor Brian Tobin.

Walking to the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Avenue, Hochul said she could picture a traffic circle that would move traffic and provide space for beautification features at the entrance to downtown.

She also told Tobin she could imagine rooftop dining being a popular attraction in downtown Cortland, as it is other places.

She toured the downtown after speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 51- 55 Main St., which is being renovated since a 2005 arson left it vacant. That renovation was assisted by $200,000 in downtown economic funds that were awarded through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council last year. The site also received several hundred thousand dollars in grants in 2014, 2012 and 2009 for a $1.5 million renovation to create commercial storefronts totaling 3,800 square feet on the first floor and apartments on the upper two floors.

Hochul, Tobin and building owner Emmanuel Pothos said the renovations are the result of the kind of partnerships between private, local and state entities that are needed to make downtown communities in upstate New York thrive.

Another partnership of that kind that Hochul noted is the $10 million the state awarded Cortland in October as part of its Downtown Revitalization Initiative. There is a March 31 deadline for communities that won those funds to report to the state their final wishlist of projects for funding, a target date to keep the process moving along, she said.

The city hopes to see a downtown movie theater, an entertainment venue in the former Mullen’s office supply store and a two-way Main Street, among 26 projects and $35.5 million in downtown investment seeking $9.7 million in state funds to get them started.

The planning committee’s final list is asking for $12.7 million when only $10 million is available and $300,000 goes to consultants. The state will make the final cuts and would likely announce which projects are accepted in June. That’s when communities would start the real work of sending out requests for proposals, she said.

Hochul said the state recognizes Cortland’s commitment to its future through projects like the one at 51-55 Main St. The ceremony took place in the downstairs portion of the building, still unfinished, which Pothos said could house one to two storefronts, possibly a retail or entertainment establishment.

He would not say what he wants to see there, just that he wants a good fit for the neighborhood and a tenant that will succeed.

“Downtown is going to be a great place, there are a lot of exciting projects going on and I’m really happy this building is the beginning of a lot of projects,” he said.

The two upper floors of the building will house eight market-rate apartments for young professionals, he said.

Hochul toured two of those apartments, saying the amenities are like what one would find in a loft in Brooklyn, before strolling along Main Street with Tobin. Her reactions ran the gamut— she loved the architecture of the buildings downtown — but thought the dated facade at 1 Main St., the site of Asian Delicious, needs improvement.

“I see right now incredible bones,” Hochul said. Now it is the state’s responsibility to fund the projects that will revamp downtown.