The Renaissance Block Challenge (RBC) program will be available in 2019 for the ninth consecutive year. Sponsored by Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC), the RBC encourages groups of neighbors to collaborate on exterior improvements to their properties in order to boost confidence in Jamestown’s neighborhoods and inspire others to reinvest. Since 2011, 45 neighborhoods have participated in JRC’s Renaissance Block Challenge with 450 property owners investing more than $1.3 million in exterior improvements and repairs.
In the past, all neighborhoods in Jamestown had the opportunity to apply for this grant. In 2017, a Housing Market Analysis and Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy study was performed by czb LLC. This study suggests focusing on specific areas of the city for housing revitalization. After many discussions with community partners, including Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. (COI), Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation (CHRIC), Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation, the City of Jamestown, and local foundations, the area around Allen Park and UPMC- Chautauqua was chosen as the 2019 target area. (See map)
Property owners in the target area who wish to participate in the 2019 RBC need to form a neighborhood cluster with a minimum of five property owners that can include homeowners, landlords and businesses. Once a group is formed, the pre-application process can start.
Pre-applications for property owners will be available on JRC’s website jamestownrenaissance.org, under “Healthy Neighborhoods” starting Saturday, December 1st. The pre-applications will be due Friday, February 15th, 2019.
Each property is eligible for a match up to $2,000 to facilitate their exterior projects. Projects funded in the program include painting, porch repair, soffit repair, sidewalk repair, new mailboxes, exterior lighting, front-yard landscaping, front doors/windows, driveways, driveway aprons, and gutters.
Aside from matching grant funding, participating homeowners have access to discounts from sponsoring hardware stores and garden centers as well as discounts on coordinated purchasing of materials, services, and design.
The RBC pre-applications will be reviewed, and invitations to the final applications will be announced in March. In the final applications, participants outline exterior improvements they wish to complete and skills they can bring to projects in their cluster. The neighborhoods with the best chance of being approved for the program are those that can demonstrate a commitment to cultivating strong communication between neighbors and a shared sense of identity so that momentum gained in 2019 can be carried forward and result in a sustainable impact on the community.
“While the Renaissance Block Challenge financially assists homeowners with curb appeal improvements to their properties, the real benefit is an increase in pride of ownership within each of these neighborhoods,” says Mary Maxwell, JRC’s Neighborhood Project Associate. “And on top of that, and more importantly, there is an increase in communication among the neighbors.” Block parties, neighborhood sales and group participation in volunteer activities become annual events.
Learn more about the Renaissance Block Cluster application process by attending one of the informational workshops (see the facts box). All the workshops are the same. Interested property owners only need to attend one, not all. Attendance is not required but it is highly recommended.
Renaissance Block Challenge Dates
- Thursday, January 10th, 2019: Application informational workshop at 6 p.m. at the UPMC-Chautauqua auditorium (WCA on Foote Ave.)
- Saturday, January 12th, 2019: Application informational workshop at 10:00 a.m. at the JRC offices, 301 East 2nd Street, Suite 301.
- Friday, February 15th, 2019: Deadline for pre-applications.
- March 2019: Invitations to the final applications will be announced in March.
- April 2019: Final applications are due Friday, April 19, 2019
Funding for the Renaissance Block Challenge program is being provided by the John Alfred and Oscar Johnson Memorial Trust and The Lenna Foundation, with support from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation.