Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

December 07, 2017

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

Local Contractors Selected to Construct New Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn

Contractors from Auburn, Waterloo and Binghamton Submit Winning Bids

Equal Rights Heritage Center Scheduled to Open in 2018 is Funded Through Governor Cuomo's Central NY Rising Initiative

The Office of State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and City of Auburn announced four New York Contractors in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier Regions have been selected to construct the $10 million Equal Rights Heritage Center scheduled to open next year. A total of 16 bids were received for work pertaining to general construction, electrical, plumbing and mechanical for the new 7,500 square foot tourism destination that will emphasize New York State's progressive history of promoting social and equal rights. The Center is funded and supported through Governor Cuomo's Central NY Rising Initiative, the regions comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development.

"The Equal Rights Heritage Center will honor those who strived and struggled to seek out equality and correct the injustices that once prevented equal rights for all," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "Their ideas, sacrifice and determination will remind all visitors that it was their leadership in New York State and here in the City of Auburn that shaped the values of the nation. We are proud that this symbol of equality will now begin to rise up and soon become a destination to reflect, remember and remind us that we need to continue to carry the torch lit by these trailblazers."

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of New York State's civil rights pioneers and will be a great addition to New York's many exciting destinations, which drew more than 239 million visitors this past year."

"The construction of the Equal Rights Heritage Center in Downtown Auburn will provide a significant boost to heritage tourism for our region," said City of Auburn Mayor Michael Quill Sr. "Governor Cuomo understands that investment in tourism means jobs and business for our upstate economy and we are happy to have the opportunity to welcome these construction jobs into our City. The Governor's leadership provides Auburn with a significant downtown revitalization project and is a substantial tourism investment in our region."

The General Contract, at a winning bid of $5,027,000, was awarded to FAHS Construction Group located in Binghamton. The new Equal Rights Heritage Center will consist of board form concrete and stud framed walls and will be brick facing and support metal roofing. Redesign of the streetscape with new bus and car parking and pedestrian crossings, drainage and erosion control, and native plantings will be some of the work done around the Center and is expected to improve both traffic flow and walkability in and around the location. More than a half a century of experience, FAHS Construction Group achievements include building projects ranging from small buildings to landmark projects in various fields including education, hospitality, technology, transportation, healthcare, retail, residential and commercial.

Auburn based J&E Electric will perform all electrical work ($344,100) on the Center and Siracusa Mechanicals will focus on all plumbing ($140,320) including water, sewer and appropriate fixtures within the building. HMI Mechanical Systems located in Waterloo will focus their specialties the Mechanical ($454,000) which includes the installation of a geothermal HVAC system. Total amount for the construction contracts totals $5,965,420.

Bids are currently received and in review for Exhibit Fabrication and Installation with a winner expected to be selected in January.

Located directly across from Memorial City Hall and next to the William H. Seward House Museum, the Equal Rights Heritage Center was announced back in September as part of Governor Cuomo's Central NY Rising Initiative and includes exhibition and community spaces. The center will educate and highlight the role the State and New Yorkers have played in the struggle for women's rights, the abolitionist movement and the more recent efforts for LGBTQ rights.

Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has made unprecedented investments in the tourism industry throughout New York State, leading to historic levels of visitors and direct spending. In 2016, New York welcomed a record 239 million visitors who spent nearly $65 billion, generating a total economic impact of more than $100 billion for the third straight year. Additionally, tourism remains the state's fourth largest employer, supporting more than 914,000 jobs annually.

Accelerating Central NY Rising

The State has already invested nearly $3 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. 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 Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising 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 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.