EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth in a 14-story series on issues that will be facing local communities in 2014.
The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation's Renaissance Block Challenge will continue in 2014.
In 2013, the block challenge occurred downtown for the first time. The downtown clusters included Carlson's Jewelry, Jochum Business Systems, Holmlund's Wallpaper, Field and Wright Building, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts, Mariner's Pier Express, Reg Lenna Theater, Dugan's Tavern, buildings located at 212 N. Main St., 12 E. Second St., 24 E. Third St., 106-110 E Second St., and a city parking lot. The renovations to these areas range from facade improvements and rehabilitation to public murals, marquee improvements and more.
Renovations to the building that houses Weeping Willow Gifts, Carlson’s Jewelry Smithing and two apartments was completed. The project included power washing the building, replacing windows, repainting of signs and new awnings. The project was done as part of the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation’s Renaissance Block Challenge in 2013.
P-J photo by Dennis Phillips
Peter Lombardi, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation's deputy director, said $120,000 will be available to businesses participating in the program next year. He said more information will be released in January on how to apply for funding. He said after receiving the applications, the downtown clusters will be selected.
Lombardi said some of the projects from last year will continue into the New Year. The business at 212 Main St., which used to be a pizzeria, will continue to be renovated to be a Cuban restaurant. The Field and Wright Building, at the corner of Second and North Main streets, will be improved for new business tenants.
Work will also continue on Main Street by the rail road bridge. Work is being done at Holmlund's Wallpaper and Paint, and the viaduct area under the railroad bridge. Lombardi said the idea is to put colorful lights in the area to make it look nicer and to make the area safer for people wanting to go underneath the bridge to the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk along the Chadakoin River.
''The cluster approach encourages neighbors to improve, and the program can help small and large projects,'' he said. ''There is a demand for high quality storefronts.''
Greg Lindquist, Jamestown Renaissance Corporation executive director, said along with renovating buildings, the focus will be to bring more businesses into downtown in 2014.
''We've done good with the brick and mortar, but now we want to move people in,'' he said. ''We're trying to attract people who moved outside the city to move back.''
Lindquist said there are several slots downtown where businesses could move in quickly. He said there are retail locations available in the Wellman Building, BWB Building and Hotel Jamestown. Lindquist said retaining businesses downtown will also be an emphasis for next year. He said a survey will be done asking businesses what they need to be successful.
''People are beginning to see the value and return in their investment,'' Lindquist said.
Lombardi said the neighborhood renovation cluster program will also continue in 2014. It will be the fourth year for the program. More information will be available in January on how to apply.
In 2013, the residential neighborhoods included clusters on the south side near Fairfield Avenue and Superior Street, the west side on Hallock Street, downtown on Lafayette and Jefferson streets, and the north side on Hotchkiss Street. Over the past three years, 15 different neighborhood clusters have participated in the program. A total of 72 projects were part of the neighborhood project this year. For each project, half of the funding up to $1,000 was given to homeowners who made improvements. Lombardi said to apply for the neighborhood program people will need at least five property owners to participate. The southeast section of the city near Allen Park is a neighborhood that could be part of the program in 2014, Lombardi said.
Jamestown Renaissance Corporation officials are also looking for areas to continue the Grow Jamestown program. GROW Jamestown is a communitywide partnership to promote gardening and landscaping throughout Jamestown. Collectively, these efforts promote neighborhood beautification and revitalization, healthy lifestyles, civic engagement, and the productive reuse of vacant lots and underutilized spaces.
Funding for the Renaissance Block Challenge matching grants was provided by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, the Lenna Foundation and Northwest Savings Bank, as well as support from the Chautauqua County Housing Assistance Fund and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce.
Local businesses also played a role in assisting participants with discounts and services, including: Brigiotta's Greenhouse and Garden Center, Everydays True Value, Chautauqua Brick, Mike's Nursery and Sandberg Kessler Architecture Firm.
For more information on the Renaissance Block Challenge or Grow Jamestown, visit www.jrconline.org.