“How can we strategically invest in a charming upstate city that has many assets but also has a rising poverty rate?”

Client: City of Geneva, NY

Team Members: David Boehlke, Karen Beck Pooley, Charles Buki, Matt Ingalls, Peter Lombardi, Andrea Weinberg

Services: Housing Analysis, Strategy Development, Community Engagement, Facilitation, Report Creation, Steering Committee

Geneva is a small, post-industrial city in the center of New York State’s Finger Lakes region. The city has a number of assets, including picturesque views of Seneca Lake, and is home to Hobart and William Smith Colleges, a highly-regarded liberal arts college. However, the city also has a poverty rate of roughly 25% and several sections of the city are suffering from years of deferred investment.
czb first came to Geneva in 2008. Our team's work included a full analysis of the city’s housing markets and recommendations on how to improve conditions and marketability across its many neighborhoods. Based on czb’s report, the City of Geneva created a new agency, the Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center, (, which provides grants, information on home repair, and support to neighborhood associations across the city's 11 distinct neighborhoods and planning areas.
In 2015, czb came back to Geneva to develop a new Comprehensive Plan that would build upon the success of the ongoing work being done in Geneva’s neighborhoods. A 23-member steering committee advised the comprehensive planning process, which included a number of trade-off exercises and facilitated conversations in coffee shops and living rooms across the city.  czb's final plan for Geneva provides actionable recommendations for how to improve conditions in the city's downtown, in its neighborhoods, and along its lakefront and other key corridors.

Project Outcomes

In 2016 Geneva adopted its new Comprehensive Plan.

After czb's 2008 report, Geneva created the Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center, which has engaged more than 3,000 residents in neighborhood activities.

The city is moving forward with $10 million downtown grant, which will build on the priorities and data outlined in the Comprehensive Plan.

After the adoption of the comprehensive plan, Geneva went on to win a $10 million downtown grant from the State of New York. Geneva’s City Manager told local reporters that going through the comprehensive planning process and having access to data from the czb plan substantially bolstered the city’s grant application.