February 29, 2024

Governor Hochul Announces Completion Of Major Downtown Revitalization Initiative Renovation Project In Owego

Governor Hochul Announces Completion Of Major Downtown Revitalization Initiative Renovation Project In Owego
Mixed-Use Development Creates a Vibrant Marketplace in the Heart of Owego; Offers Commercial Space and Residential Apartments
The Marketplace Donut and Beer Co. Will Help Create a New Era in Owego Downtown
Downtown Revitalization Initiative Funds Key Catalytic Projects to Revitalize

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a $683,700 mixed-used building project in the heart of the Owego. Funded in part through the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award in 2018, the renovation of a blighted, vacant building will bring new life to the downtown with a redesigned first floor to create a new concept of a vibrant marketplace with indoor/outdoor gathering space and creating upper-story housing.

“We are breathing new life into our communities through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” Governor Hochul said. “This development will create a new, vibrant space for community members to live, shop, and visit, ushering in a more prosperous future for downtown Owego.”

“Through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the Regional Economic Development Councils, we are investing in our downtowns and transforming properties into vibrant commercial and residential spaces for the whole community to enjoy,” Lieutenant Governor Delgado said. “I was honored to celebrate this newly completed project in Owego today and to continue this work of incentivizing investment in our communities statewide.”

Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado attended the ribbon cutting for the completed development today. Led by the Empire State Development, the project received $439,000 from the Department of State’s DRI program to renovate both the interior and exterior of a building located on 229 North Avenue. The restoration included the redesign of the first floor, new electrical and plumbing systems, new floors, walls and renovations to the patio.

The facility went through a complete renovation from a blighted building that housed an old grocery store into a 6,000 square feet multi-use space that now is the Donut & Beer Co., a modern place that offers a self-serve beer wall, rotating craft, street foods, small marketplace and indoor/outdoor gathering space. The second floor will offer 2,500 square-foot residential property which features two apartments. The owners of this property, Ike and Julie Lovelass, have been active participants of Owego’s revitalization and have made other non-DRI investments in the downtown that have included a very popular restaurant and transformation of a historic property into an inn.

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “From vacancy to vibrancy, Owego’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative transformed a vacant, deteriorating building into a real community asset in the heart of downtown. New places like the Donut & Beer Co. have a meaning beyond their bricks and mortar, and the revitalization of this legacy building with commercial and residential offerings will be key to the prosperity of Owego. One more time, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is the key that creates new life into buildings to usher in new eras for downtowns throughout New York.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Economic development is about enhancing our city centers in ways that make them more attractive for everyone. Through the adaptive reuse of this vacant building, thanks in large part to New York State’s incredibly successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the historic village of Owego has created a really inventive, multi-use space that will serve and excite residents and visitors for generations to come.”

State Senator Tom O'Mara said, “The Downtown Revitalization Initiative program continues to make important and significant state investments in local communities across our region, including in the village of Owego. The opening of Owego Donut & Beer Co. represents an exciting and unique addition to the village and as a regional tourism destination. We look forward to their success in revitalizing and strengthening the local community and economy.”

Assemblymember Chris Friend said, “Congratulations to Owego Beer and Donuts. You have created a unique and innovative business that customers and the community will enjoy for a long time! Thank you for taking a risk and expanding job and cuisine opportunities for the Southern Tier. I wish you many years of success.”

Owego Mayor Mike Baratta said, “The award of DRI funds has ignited the revitalization of the Village of Owego. Owego Donuts and Beer is a great example of leveraging public and private investment to create jobs and expand the local economy.”

Chair of the Tioga County Legislature Martha Sauerbrey said, “During the DRI process for the Village of Owego, we considered the projects and hoped for the best. Owego Donuts and Beer has turned out to be one of the most innovative and creative projects I have ever experienced. Added to that, the professionalism that created and implemented this project was exemplary. The product is excellent, the concept is out of the box and I can't be prouder of what has been established in our community. Needless to say, the donuts are amazing.”

Owego Donut & Beer Co. Owners Ike and Julie Lovelass said, “We believe that the renovation of this property, would not have been possible without the economic incentive of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The feasibility of renovating the property without the assistance of these funds, would have been next to impossible to recoup the investment in the space. It was important to both of us to save this structure, as it has been an important part of the village economic development and the greater Owego community for decades.”

The Village of Owego was awarded $10 million by the Department of State after being nominated a Round 3 Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) winner by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council. This project, selected from Owego’s Strategic Investment Plan, plays a key role in transforming the downtown and supporting a vibrant local economy.

The Village of Owego is a gateway to the Finger Lakes, Ithaca and Watkins Glen regions. The one square mile focus area includes the historic downtown and a transitional business and residential area on both sides of the Susquehanna River. The compact and walkable area contains amenities that support and enhance downtown living and quality of life, such as municipal parks, theaters, and walking paths that connect to the river. With impending job growth sparked by two major “anchor” projects, the Village will leverage DRI funds to improve downtown living; improve the economic environment to attract business and skilled labor; incentivize cultural and entertainment activities that will attract residents and visitors of all ages and income levels; and capture and expand upon strong community pride in the downtown’s quality of life. 

About the Downtown Revitalization Initiative

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative was created in 2016 to accelerate and expand the revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods in all ten regions of the state to serve as centers of activity and catalysts for investment. Led by the Department of State with assistance from Empire State Development, Homes and Community Renewal and NYSERDA, the DRI represents an unprecedented and innovative “plan-then-act” strategy that couples strategic planning with immediate implementation and results in compact, walkable downtowns that are a key ingredient to helping New York State rebuild its economy from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to achieving the State's bold climate goals by promoting the use of public transit and reducing dependence on private vehicles.

In the first six years of the program, the state committed $700 million in 69 downtowns that are ripe for revitalization and that have the potential to become magnets for redevelopment, business, job creation and greater economic and housing diversity and opportunity. Participating communities are nominated by the state's 10 Regional Economic Development Councils based on the downtown's potential for transformation. Each community is awarded $10 million to develop a downtown strategic investment plan and implement key catalytic projects that advance the community's vision for revitalization and leverage additional private and public investments. Information on the DRI is available here