Utica, NY (WIBX) - The Historic New Century Club Building on Genesee street in Utica will be the new headquarters for the Rust To Green Utica Program. Program staff members will use the space to work on restructuring the city to make it more urban and environmentally friendly.

That's according to Robert Sullivan, Urban Renewal Agency Executive Director for the City of Utica who said the project is hope inspiring. "We have to re-brand what and who we are if we are going to be successful and sustainable into the 21st Century. We need a location or home to do that and we're looking at this building as the location of, when people want to see positive things happen--this will be the Think Tank, the place where that stuff is discussed and where things happen," Sullivan said.

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties presented $53,200 in grant money to the group that will go towards paying up to 12 trained student researchers from Hamilton College and Colgate University. The students will work on green city development projects such as, The Green Infrastructure Mapping Project that aims to make Utica a more environmentally friendly city. Cornell University lecturer and Rust To Green co-creator Jamie Vanucci said, "It is our hope that the mapping will benefit Utica as it rethinks its identity, settlement patterns, economy and infrastructure to better integrate urban, ecological and community systems and needs."

Hamilton College President Joan Stewart said the grant is an unusual one for the institution but added that they are grateful to receive it because it will go a long way to benefit the overall project and the students. She said, "This award is going to allow the faculty and students at Hamilton who work with our really very fine Levitt Center to conduct very important significance research with real world implications to think more about sustainable development to support the community foundation, and to get the kind of experience that is really important for students in a college so we're very pleased about it."

Sullivan said so far the cost to refurbish the exterior of the Historic building was $50,000 but an estimated $100,000 is needed to complete the interior. He said, "We're going to be looking for grants, loans, small business involvement. We're also going to lease the building out to other agencies entrusted so it should be sustainable--it will be a sustainable building. He said the projected completion date for the renovation project is Spring of 2011. He said the community should stay "focused" and "in-tune" about the Rust To Green initiatives to come.