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Jul 13, 2018

July 12, 2018 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $20 million in funding to support the $60 million expansion project at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester's East End on the site of the former inner loop. The funding, provided through a Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant, will help to attract new and returning visitors to one of the Finger Lakes' top tourist attractions. The expansion project, which includes the construction of a new downtown parking garage, is expected to create 40 new jobs at The Strong and be completed in 2020.

"Tourism is critical to driving the Finger Lakes economy, and The Strong Museum is a key attraction for the entire region," Governor Cuomo said. "With these upgrades, this project will help to build economic momentum, attracting visitors from across the globe and fostering regional prosperity for generations to come."

The Strong museum's expansion plan is just one part of a massive, three-phase, $108 million development project that will feature a national chain-branded, family friendly hotel adjacent to the museum; the construction of residential housing and other mixed-use space; and the creation of a new, dedicated road connecting Woodbury Boulevard to Union Street. The Strong also plans to add a 100,000 square-foot wing onto its existing facility, which will become the home of the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The addition will provide visitors with a unique and immersive video gaming environment experience that celebrates the history and cultural impact of video games.

Funding for the mixed-use development project will come through both government and private investment. In addition to the $20 million in URI funding, Indus Hospitality Group will invest more than $21 million to construct a 100-room hotel in the city's east end. Konar Properties will invest approximately $30 million to fund the development of 240 rental townhomes and apartments, as well as 18,000 square-feet of retail and restaurant space on the parcel. The total cost of the museum's expansion and the construction of the garage is estimated at $60 million.

The 11.2-acre project area includes four acres of the former Inner Loop roadway which was filled in to make room for this development. It also includes the construction and dedication of a new road connecting Woodbury Boulevard, Manhattan Square Drive, and Savannah Street to the new Union Street. The new road will break up the existing 22-acre block on the site, and will become a focal point of an inviting walkable, and bikeable new neighborhood.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's strong commitment to promoting tourism, great things are happening statewide - and there's more ahead. The expansion of the Strong National Museum of Play will help draw even more visitors to the Rochester area, which will have a real economic impact on the region for many years to come."

Steve Dubnik, The Strong President & CEO said, "The Strong's planned expansion—which market research shows can draw an additional 400,000 guests per year to the region and put the museum's attendance near one million annually—will be the cornerstone of the Neighborhood of Play, a vibrant place to live, work and play. The museum's addition will provide an expanded home for the internationally recognized World Video Game Hall of Fame and host a new, leading-edge, immersive video game experience like no other in the United States. It's estimated to add an additional $130 million annually to the economy of the Finger Lakes region. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and his team for their support of this transformative project."

Jett Mehta, President & CEO of Indus Hospitality Group, said, "Indus is fortunate to be embraced by the communities we serve, and we are proud to be a part of our region's exceptional hospitality industry. We are happy to become a part of the downtown Rochester business community and its promising growth and revitalization."

Howard Konar of Konar Properties said,"The ideas for this project have grown over many years, from early thoughts about changes created by the Inner Loop project to ways in which our team could shape those changes into a new downtown neighborhood built in the international brand of The Strong. We are proud to be part of this team and of the changes we hope to bring to this area of downtown Rochester."

Senator Joe Robach said, "The Strong Museum of Play is one of our area's most popular and important community assets. With today's groundbreaking, The Strong begins the process of enhancing one of New York's great attractions. Visitors from across our region, the state and nation will have greater access to a one-of-a-kind museum that embraces the values of creativity and innovation that help to make our community what it is today."

Senator Rich Funke said, "The Strong Museum of Play is a major component of New York State's thriving tourism industry. As the fourth largest employer in the state, we need to continue our support of organizations and businesses that help make our region a tourist destination. Plans for The Neighborhood of Play reflect the needs of our diverse community and the growing popularity of space that allows individuals and families to live, work and play all in one location. This project is certainly a collaborative effort and our community is fortunate to have leaders with vision, experience and determination leading the way. Investing in projects that promote tourism are always a win for our community, especially when those projects build upon successful organization such as The Strong."

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said, "This exciting investment will strengthen our regions vibrant tourism economy while further enhancing the Strong Museum's reputation as a world-class destination that offers a one of a kind learning experience for visitors. Most importantly, by expanding cultural opportunities and investing in the economic potential of our region we are creating a brighter, more secure future for working families in our community."

Assemblyman Harry Bronson said, "The Strong is a standout tourist attraction in the Finger Lakes Region. This expansion project is a pivotal component of the Inner Loop redesign and it will add to our economy by bringing more visitors and families to Rochester who will shop at local businesses. I applaud The Strong for its vision and am pleased this public/private investment will build upon our economic expansion efforts to encourage development and grow jobs our city."

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said, "The Strong Museum of Play is one of Monroe County's top visitor attractions, welcoming generations of children and families from all over the world to our community to explore the wonders of play. This expansion promises to enhance the Museum's already stellar guest experience and help it do even more to attract visitors, jobs and investment to our area. Monroe County is thrilled to be investing in this job-creating project's success and we thank the Strong and all of our partners involved for their continued commitment to our community."

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said, "The Strong Museum expansion will take us a long way in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities. I would like to thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo and all of our leaders in Federal, State and local governments for their investment and support in our Inner Loop East project. By working together, we can continue to move our city and the Finger Lakes forward."

This strategic investment will strengthen the region's tourism efforts, building on the already significant impact the industry has had on the regional economy. The region welcomed more 14.5 million visitors in 2016, which generated more than $1.6 billion in direct spending. Tourism efforts in the Finger Lakes region support more than 33,000 jobs across its nine counties.

Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in New York State tourism, leading to historic levels of visitation, direct spending and economic impact. More than 239 million annual visitors generate over $65 billion in direct spending statewide, supporting an economic impact that continues to surpass $100 billion each year. Additionally, tourism remains the state's fourth largest employer, supporting more than 935,000 jobs annually.

For additional information about the Strong Museum, click here.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $5.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.


About New York State

New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York's attractions feature landmarks such as Niagara Falls, the largest park in the continental U.S. in the Adirondacks and treasures such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester. New York State offers diverse activities for all: outdoor fun- snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding, fishing, hiking and boating, year-round festivals and exploring the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies. Visitors also enjoy the fine cuisine, beverage trails and farm-to-table fresh foods.

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Phillip Novoa
Finn Partners
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Eric Scheffel
Empire State Development
(518) 292-5274