North Main Street is the former commercial center of Northville. After many years of minimal capital improvement, this area of the Village is very much at risk. What could be a major asset to the Village’s economic well-being, now detracts from it. There are at least four endangered historic structures, several vacant lots and several buildings that are generic and/or style non-compliant in a Village that needs to attract visitors and tourists in order to be an economically viable community. A recent development proposal presented to the Northville Planning Board would demolish one of the remaining historic buildings (the former NBT Bank) and puts in its place a Family Dollar (FD) store. Besides the loss of the historic bank building, anchoring North Main Street on the northeast side, there would be a substantial impact on the few remaining locally-owned retail establishments. In addition, the increasingly generic appearance of the commercial area will have a negative impact on the number and types of tourists that visit Northville. This will undo years of effort by existing retailers and volunteer organizations to improve amenities and quality of life services for both residents and visitors.
It was decided at a recent community meeting to stop the FD project by proposing an alternative plan. In addition, a statement and proposal were created for the purpose of building consensus and support for a community development strategy, over the long(er) term. Aerial views of North Main Street: north, south, east and west.
The Village of Northville has valuable assets. These assets include its location along the two lakes, rural authenticity, a wonderful and inexpensive residential housing stock, proximity to recognized tourist destinations such as Saratoga Springs, an assortment of fairly-priced local tourist amenities, proximity to well-published outdoor activities (the Adirondacks), etc. These assets give it the potential to derive economic benefit sufficient to sustain the local economy while maintaining good quality of life for the residents. Northville Main Street is the commercial and social hub of the community. What has been missing from Main Street is a pro-active revitalization vision supported by community consensus and a business-like organizational structure to execute this vision. The FD crisis makes obvious that the community recognizes that a breaking point has been reached and that drastic action is required – action that perhaps was not possible up till now.
PROPOSAL 1. Create a Historic District. The district will provide protection from unwanted development if this is coupled with a zoning overlay. Preservation tax credits will attract private investment for the repair of the North Main commercial buildings and subsidize home repairs for owners of contributing residences. 2. Establish an Economic Development Corporation. The corporation will use a combination of public and private funding to
acquire, restore and adaptively re-use endangered commercial historic buildings in the district. A comprehensive strategy to promote a small-business locally-owned commercial-residential four-season Main Street is also needed. 3. Enact a property tax abatement program for major restoration projects. This encourages property owners to restore decaying buildings and then allows time to grow the business(es) in these buildings before the property tax burden rises. This is a common and successful strategy for attracting private investment. 4. Create a North Main Sewer District. Main Street would greatly benefit from incorporating residential use or even a small hotel in the larger buildings or along the Little Lake. This is not possible without addressing the sewage disposal issue. 5.
Establish a targeted grant writing effort. Attracting a mix of public funds through a coordinated effort among the village and the local service organizations is very much needed for: planning; marketing; outreach; feasibility studies; hiring outside consultants; and creating a quality self-sustaining 4-season economy.