On Thursday, July 18, state and local officials gathered at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, located at 116 E. Third St., for the announcement that downtown Jamestown will receive $10 million from the state through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that one of his 2016 signature proposals was the Downtown Revitalization Initiative that will invest $100 million into 10 communities – one municipality from each of the Regional Economic Development Councils. The initiative is to assist communities with transformative housing, economic development, transportation and community projects to attract and retain residents, visitors and businesses.
Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development president and chief executive officer who was in Jamestown to make the announcement, said if you develop a region’s urban core, good things will happen.
”We want to create places young people will want to be. We want to create places old people will want to be. We want to create a place everyone will want to be,” he said.
Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said under Cuomo’s leadership, New York state has retooled their economic development process for the better.
”Trying new things is a good thing,” he said.
State Sen. Catharine Young, R-C-I-Olean, said downtown Jamestown now has endless potential because of the $10 million investment from the state.
”We love Jamestown. We believe in Jamestown. We believe Jamestown has a great future,” she said.
State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Jamestown, said for Jamestown to be selected from all the other applicants in the region for the $10 million award is a testament to the quality work being done by city leaders, foundation officials and community stakeholders.
”Jamestown was selected as the applicant because the governor is confident the project will be successful,” he said.
County Executive Vince Horrigan said the funding from the state turns the page on the past and is the start of a bright future for Jamestown.
”We’re a long way from Rio, but this is a gold medal day for Chautauqua County,” he said.
Before the governor’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative was even included in the final state budget, Jamestown officials were working collaboratively to produce a plan to be the $10 million recipient for the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. In June, Vince DeJoy, city development director, said the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative plan included comments from community stakeholders who had met when Goody Clancy held a transformative priority project seminar at the Reg Lenna earlier this year. The plan also included information from AECOM Technical Services Inc., who created the Downtown Jamestown Economic Development Strategy report that was released to the public last year.
Goody Clancy is the architecture firm that created Jamestown’s Urban Design Plan. In 2006, city officials adopted the plan, which identified a need to look at how vehicles and pedestrians move throughout the city in particular, the downtown core. That plan was crafted with help from Bergmann Associates.
AECOM was hired by the Gebbie Foundation to develop a strategic report about opportunities in the city to maximize the positive impact the National Comedy Center will have on businesses and residents in the region. In the report, AECOM officials detail specific buildings and streets downtown that should be redeveloped to enhance the city’s urban core for the projected $23 million annual economic impact the National Comedy Center will have on the region, which will result in an estimated 114,000 visitors each year.
Along with city leaders, officials from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and the Gebbie Foundation worked on the application for the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative.