Utica, NY - Upper Mohawk Valley Memorial Auditorium Authority (UMVMAA) Chairman Carl Annese announced today that the board, in conjunction with co-applicant Oneida County, has submitted the City of Utica’s Urban Renewal Agency Application to purchase the Washington Courts Property, located on Whitesboro Street across the street from the Utica Memorial Auditorium. Annese, along with Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. submitted the application to the City on June 7 for $231,660, equivalent to the standard set by the City when the UMVMAA purchased the adjacent land in 2014, which became the 285-car parking lot located South of The AUD. Picente and CEO of Mohawk Valley Garden Robert Esche look to use the property for development of The U District, a comprehensive Arts, Sports, & Entertainment District that was unveiled back on May 16.
“It is an absolute honor to have not only the Authority’s support, but also the support of our County Executive and Legislators, in making sports and entertainment key components of the tourism sector in the heart of Utica, New York,” said Esche. “Having been able to dedicate my life to sports and entertainment and now seeing it become a true economic driver in transforming the area in my hometown is truly one of the highlights of my life.”
Since the unveiling of The U District almost a month ago, support has been at an all-time high for the future of Arts, Sports & Entertainment in downtown Utica, and the submission of the application to purchase Washington Courts marks another monumental step in turning the vision into a tangible reality. The Washington Courts land, adjacent to the newly developed AUD parking lot, will be utilized as the future home of the American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center, a multi-faceted and interactive facility that will showcase the complexities of the craft beer industry. The American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center and the Nexus Center, along with other impactful amenities, will all have the ability to operate underneath the UMVMAA’s successful guidance.
“The flourishing partnership between the board and the County has been instrumental in the success of sports and entertainment in our area,” said Annese. “Working together on this combined vision has generated incessant impactful ideas that will become realities for our region.”
The AUD, presently undergoing Phase I of The U District with the West End Expansion project, will open with a 21,000-square foot addition this Fall; The AUD has acted as the anchor for sports and entertainment in downtown Utica and will continue to do so at an amplified rate upon completion of the current project. Phase I will add much needed women’s bathrooms, a sprinkling system that will cover the entire building, ADA-compliant amenities, office space and premium seating options to the National Historic Engineering Landmark that is home to both the Utica Comets, Utica College Men’s and Women’s hockey programs and the Utica Jr. Comets. The U District will drive the critical masses from The AUD through the Nexus Center and American Craft Beer Museum and Innovation Center, increasing foot traffic exponentially.
“Securing this vacant property will move us one step closer to turning The U District into a reality,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “We are utilizing all of our resources to push forward and bring an arts, sports and entertainment district to downtown Utica that will completely transform and revitalize the area surrounding The AUD and launch our region onto the national stage as a tourist destination.”
With a tentative hearing set for June 22, the UMVMAA, along with Picente and Esche, look to execute their game plan at a breakneck speed to transform the landscape of downtown Utica. Acquiring the Washington Courts property is another crucial box that will be checked off and another massive step in the right direction for a community that is ready to embrace a modern epicenter for Arts, Sports & Entertainment with open arms.
For more information regarding The U District and Phase I construction at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, please visit www.uticacomets.com/theudistrict and follow along with the hashtag #ADistrictForU.