Brick By Brick
Aggressive Housing Improvement Schedule Planned
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi has an aggressive housing and neighborhood improvement agenda planned for 2018.
Teresi recently presented his annual State of the City report to Jamestown City Council. The report includes 59 initiatives city officials plan to work on throughout the year.
One of those initiatives is the aggressive housing and neighborhood improvement agenda, which is planned around a timely and aggressive response to code enforcement complaints; continuation of quadrant and minisweep enforcement efforts; selective demolitions of abandoned properties; operation of Community Development Block Grant funded rehabilitation initiatives; and completion of an overdue update/overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinances and sign regulations.
Teresi states in his report that city officials will work with community partners like the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, CHRIC, CODE, Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation and Chautauqua Area Habitat for Humanity to renovate properties in the city. He said with assistance from the JRC, the North Main Street gateway neighborhood master plan will continue to advance. He added that the JRC’s Renaissance Block Challenge will continue to very effectively improve city neighborhoods by funding matching grants for exterior home improvements.
With the assistance of CHRIC, Teresi said four residential properties will see renovations through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME program funding. He said the houses were made available through the county land bank who acquired the properties via Chautauqua County’s tax foreclosure auction. The mayor said city officials will also work with the county Land Bank to continue acquire properties that have the ability to be marketed as redevelopment projects, with the priority for rehabilitation to return them to being owner-occupied houses.
Teresi said city officials will continue to work with CODE to acquire and redevelop property in downtown Jamestown that have been targeted for improvements. Also, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, city officials will assist in the construction of a new house on the site of a previously condemned structure that was demolished.
Last month, Vince DeJoy, city development director, said housing code violations continue to be an ongoing problem in the city. In 2017, there was nearly as many code violation cases as in 2016. There were 1,232 cases in 2017, which were 13 cases fewer than in 2016 when there were 1,245.
DeJoy said the cases rarely involve owner-occupied properties. He said continuing aggressive enforcement is one way city officials plan to improve housing in the city in the new year.
Teresi said in 2018, city officials will also be working to implement a MyGov code enforcement platform upgrade, which will help city employees with housing code violation report efficiency. MyGov is the city’s Web-based government and community development code enforcement software program. Since the fall of 2014, city code enforcement officers have been using the MyGov software program that allows city officials to access information easily through its streamlined platform. The program helps mobilize code officers daily on the houses they need to track.
People can visit the city’s website — jamestownny.net — to report properties that have housing code violations. On the city’s homepage, go under “departments” and click on the “development/housing” link, which will take you to where you can use MyGov by clicking on the submit a request for code enforcement link.
Another initiative Teresi said is to complete the demolition and cleanup of 24 N. Main St. following a fire that engulfed the structure this past June. He also said city officials will be seeking investors to consider redeveloping the Arcade Building, which sits next to the building damaged by fire last summer.
Teresi said city officials will also be demolishing 8. E. Second St., which sits next to 10-12 E. Second St., which collapsed and necessitated an emergency demolition in November 2016.
In December, city officials did not receive state Consolidated Funding Applications funding for the stabilization of the Arcade Building. Last year, city officials, in partnership with the Gebbie Foundation, applied for $500,000 in state funding to possibly stabilize the long-vacant structure. Following last summer’s fire at 24 N. Main St., city officials went to work to try and find a solution to stabilize the structures, which also included the Haglund Building. Last summer, C&S Engineers Inc. was hired by the Gebbie Foundation to create a condition assessment report.
According to the executive summary of the condition assessment, all major components were evaluated and assessed on a good, fair or poor rating system. The components evaluated included the site, foundation, building envelope, building super-structure, utilities, mechanical, fire protection and fire alarm.
The building, which was constructed in 1898, is in fair to good condition structurally, in regard to foundation and walls. However, due to poor maintenance, upkeep and lack of functioning utilities, there are multiple points of water infiltration throughout the building, which is vacant and abandoned. Over time, the structural integrity of the various floors has become compromised, and in some areas, unsafe. In addition, most windows are broken or missing, which further compromises the weather-tightness of the building.
As part of the study, costs were determined based on three scenarios: demolition, stabilization and renovation. The least expensive option was to stabilize the building. This included making the building weather-tight and to protect it from further vandalism. This evaluation included associated hazardous materials abatement as well as the replacement of the roof, doors and windows, which had an estimated cost of $1,455,000.
The second scenario in regards to cost is demolition. This included completely razing the building, abating all hazardous materials, rendering the site ready for future development. The estimated cost for demolition was $1,708,000.
The final option explored was a full restoration, including bringing the building up to current building and energy codes. For this scenario, a first floor retail space was considered and floors two through four, residential apartments. The estimated cost for the renovations is $16,420,000.