We often hear that the strength and vitality of a community can be measured at least in part by the business and residential activity that occurs in the central business district. This year Jamestown Renaissance Corporation embarked on a downtown building cluster improvement project that spurred building owners and commercial tenants to come together and improve the facades and interior spaces of their properties. In some projects the JRC program was also supported by the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency's Facade Improvement Program.
Through the implementation of this competitive "cluster" program, neighboring property owners were encouraged to reinvest in their buildings with the support of funding from JRC. Three clusters were selected to participate this year with a JRC investment of $119,500 that will leverage an additional $120,500 of property owner capital contribution. We congratulate all of the building owners that participated in this year's competition and chose to invest in downtown. Each cluster will be acknowledged in future releases and articles.
We also recognize that many people are beginning to choose downtown as a place to live, creating a population that is diverse and comprised of many different socio-economic levels. This diversity of resident population coupled with tourism and downtown worker populations should be creating a strong market place for retail businesses and restaurants to establish and thrive. Major investments have been made in the "bricks and mortar" of the business district over the past few years yet the downtown continues to have difficulty attracting and retaining successful retail business.
During a recent walk through downtown I observed prime street level retail slots in some of the newer development projects that remain vacant while paper covers the dirt-encrusted windows of other potential retail slots. Weeds sprout unattended along the sidewalks and buildings throughout the business district. Fourth and Second streets continue to serve as major one-way corridors to move traffic as quickly as possible through downtown as if to signal that there is no reason to stop and shop. A park area that is not welcoming to users and has become overgrown with bushes and low-hanging branches does not give a sense of security for park users. Taken individually, each one of these observations may not have a great deal of significance, but collectively they point to a downtown that can be uninviting for visitors, residents and businesses.
Over the coming months JRC is committed to tackling these issues and will take a critical look at our activities and how we can better advocate for and assist downtown businesses and residents. We will convene individual and group meetings with building owners, businesses, real estate brokers and residents of downtown Jamestown to develop strategies and programs that will address the needs and concerns of people and businesses that have chosen downtown as the place to live or operate a successful business.
But we cannot do this alone; we will need your assistance to create an urban environment that will inspire the resurgence of downtown as a place to live, work and sustain successful businesses.
If you are a concerned downtown resident and would like to establish neighborhood group please contact JRC Neighborhood Coordinator Mary Maxwell at email@example.com. Businesses and building owners can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.