Before even having a grand opening, a quarter of the apartments in the Wellman Building were already rented.
"We already have 25 percent of the units rented, so it's a pretty good signal that people are interested in moving downtown, a lot of young professionals have already signed leases here," said John Merino, chief executive officer of the Gebbie Foundation.
Wednesday afternoon, the Wellman Building was the site of an open house to give the community a chance to see the progress that has been made and to tour several apartments. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was also held to signify the official grand opening of the apartments.
"The building is done. There are already tenants that are occupying some of the units. And, we thought that it would be nice to show the community what we have been talking about for the past two-and-a-half years of hard construction here. We thought it would be nice if they had a chance to see it," Merino said.
The building features an exercise room, laundry room, community space and free overnight parking directly behind the Renaissance Center for tenants. Additionally, each apartment is unique, as units were designed around historical features.
"Any time that you're going to try and adapt and use a historic building, and there are historic features that you want to keep, the struggle is finding the balance between how you economically save the property without losing the historic features along the way," Merino said.
The building, according to Merino, is everything that is called for in Jamestown's Urban Plan. He said that it exemplifies everything that they had hoped to accomplish in downtown Jamestown.
"You're living downtown, you can walk if you've got to go to City Hall for business or anything, or the county building is right there. Forte and any of the other restaurants are there. It's convenient, it promotes the whole walkable downtown theory that is in the urban plan," Merino said. "I think the primary hurdle is just getting the community to believe in it. But, I think the opportunity to see it kind of sways people in the direction to say, 'Oh, now I get it.'"
Following the ribbon cutting, Mayor Sam Teresi spoke to the observations that he has made regarding development over the past 10 years.
"This happens because people are coming together, working together, and that's the secret to what's turning around downtown Jamestown," Teresi said.
Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean) and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell (R-Chautauqua County) were also present at the ribbon cutting, and each spoke about how much the building restoration means to the area.
Merino expressed that he also has high hopes for what the Wellman Building means to Jamestown.
"I'm proud that we were able to talk to the investors, to the Williams Group out of Buffalo, and the people that really own the building and get them to take a look at Jamestown with fresh eyes. The fact that they were more than bright enough to take this step into our marketplace and take a risk on a project like this, I think it's going to be a success," Merino said.
To make an appointment or tour the apartments, contact Jason Stronz at 338-9809. For more information about the project, visit www.wellmanbuilding.com.