Auburn Could Revitalize City, Increase Tourism and Economy thru State Grant Competition

Jun 1, 2016

Auburn could capitalize on increased tourism expected for a new Harriet Tubman National Park using a state $10 Million grant.

  Auburn city officials are hoping that a statewide grant competition will help revitalize the city’s downtown area and economy. Auburn Mayor Michael Quill unveiled the proposal focused on a new welcome center to help visitors navigate the developing Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

“People can find out more information about Harriet how to travel to the different places.  But it would also encompass everything about Auburn in other things that they may want to see, for example the Seward Mansion.  Some people like to drive by our prison.  It’s just an area that would be welcome to everyone.”

Auburn's proposal for the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative includes a farmer's market adjacent to a river greenway trail, public space improvements and renovations of theater space to add to a State Street creative corridor.

  The plans also include construction of the Owasco River Greenway Trail, which would become the permanent home of the local farmer’s market. In addition, the proposal continues restorations of buildings for new housing in downtown Auburn, as well as performing arts venues.  

Auburn has enjoyed recent attention with Harriet Tubman, a former resident, slated to appear on the $20 bill. City Clerk Chuck Mason hopes that renewed focus on the abolitionist will help attract much needed visitors.

“Every single person in this country will get a good look at Harriet Tubman.  Combined with the National Park Service setting up in town, we expect that the heightened level of awareness for Tubman two to three years from now will be significant, and we want to be ready for that increased travel. “

Mason says plans have been developed over the past two decades for most of these proposals and are ready to go if given the green light.

Mayor Quill emphasizes the positive impact that new tourists will have on Auburn residents.  

“They come into the city; they may need gas to return home; they may spend a night or two, have a meal or two at our many great restaurants here in Auburn.  So all that adds into the sales tax.  But that helps us put a little more money in our coffers without raising property taxes. “


The program, first presented in the Governor’s 2016 State of the State Address, will invest $10 million into ten downtown neighborhoods across the state. The downtown areas will be selected by the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils. 

“A thriving downtown can provide a tremendous boost to the local economy,” said Governor Cuomo. “This initiative will transform selected downtown neighborhoods into vibrant places for people to live, work and raise a family – which will also help attract new investments and businesses for years to come."

The process is moving rapidly, with a decision on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative expected at the end of June … and construction potentially beginning next summer.