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Public Engagement

The City of Albany and Capitalize Albany launched the public engagement process for the third round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative by welcoming local stakeholders from a variety of sectors across this downtown district to a public workshop held at the Palace Theatre.  The Clinton Square team also released a survey online, and hard-format for the local neighborhood association, to solicit feedback from those stakeholders and project sponsors who could not be in attendance. Participants represented a cross-section of state, county, and city officials, neighborhood leadership, private business owners, property owners and developers, as well as nonprofit, arts, and banking institutions. 

This year’s engagement built from the community-driven priorities derived from the local 2017 DRI engagement series. That foundational effort included three community meetings to create a vision for the district;  an interactive workshop to establish clear boundaries, identify critical opportunities, and highlight challenges that need attention; and numerous focus sessions with individual project sponsors to determine readiness and feasibility of proposed projects.

Between rounds, the Clinton Square team has been advancing identified projects  and refining district needs with local stakeholders to prepare for Round III. This Round’s engagement process used this foundation to dive deeper into prioritization in order to strengthen the project list and prepare Clinton Square for seamless and efficient implementation.

This year’s workshop series was presented in two parts. The first meeting allocated $10 million in  “DRI Dollars” to the room – $2 million for each table – and asked the group of 30+ stakeholders to distribute the funding across various investment categories (see chart on page 43 in the DRI application document for results). When presented with the need to allocate dollars – not just high level preference – the room was challenged to make tough decisions and truly identify where their collective priorities lied. Following funding allocation, the group was asked to list priority projects in each category based on the first exercise. This facilitated a dynamic and productive discussion and led to a clear consensus on community implementation goals and strong stakeholder buy-in.

The second meeting coordinated with a public forum on the Skyway and presented the Clinton Square vision and findings from the first workshop to a group of more than 70 stakeholders. This group was then asked to comment on the prioritization, share their definition of success for Clinton Square and weigh in on the priority project list.

The Clinton Square team has a strong track-record of innovative and productive community engagement, and this experience will strengthen the level of success for DRI implementation. Clinton Square has a robust base of engaged community stakeholders who have already bought into the process, have a clear, shared definition of success and are excited to elevate Clinton Square. If nominated for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the City of Albany is eager to continue the public engagement process and provide significant opportunity for expanded outreach.