City Development Director Provides Update On Projects
With several multimillion dollar projects either completed, started or planned in 2018, the city’s development director had positive news to share with the Jamestown City Council when he delivered his annual report.
On Monday, Vince DeJoy presented his report during a 2019 budget deliberation hearing with the council, which included Downtown Revitalization Initiative updates, yearly code enforcement numbers and information about the number of blighted properties the city demolished this year.
The first DRI project DeJoy discussed was the DoubleTree By Hilton Jamestown, which he said, hopefully, will be opened by the end of the year.
The $18 million redevelopment project being done by the Hamister Group of Williamsville received $2.4 million of the $10 million the city received through the state DRI program.
DeJoy said it is now looking like the Jamestown Brewing Company will be opening in January. The $4 million project to renovate the building, which is being done by GPatti Development, and for Jon McLellan and Jon McLellan II to create and operate the Jamestown Brewing Company received $800,000 in DRI funding.
Progress was made when it comes to the possibly bringing back excursion train traffic to Jamestown. DeJoy said the Western New York Regional Rail Corridor project team met for the first time Monday. Team members include the city of Jamestown; Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties Industrial Development Agencies; Southern Tier West; Western New York Railway Historical Society; NY & Lake Erie Railroad; and the Buffalo, Cattaraugus and Jamestown Scenic Railway Co. Last year, the team hired Stone Consulting & Design to develop a feasibility study. DeJoy said there are still several challenges to overcome, but a draft of the feasibility study has been completed. City officials received $670,000 to install rail siding and pedestrian walkways for possible future excursion train travel.
DeJoy said the third pilot streetscape projects will start next spring. City officials received received $610,000 for the three projects. The first two were completed earlier this year, including East Third Street in front of the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts and along Cherry Street between Third and Fourth streets.
The third project will happen along Third Street between Washington and Cherry streets.
A streetscape is the visual elements of a street, including the road, adjoining buildings, sidewalks, street furniture, trees and open spaces, that combine to form the street’s character.
In 2019, the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk Illumination project will be started and completed, DeJoy said. The enhanced Riverwalk project received $325,000 through the DRI program. The project will consist of implementing the Riverwalk Illumination plan to decoratively light waterfront features, to construct kayak and canoe launches along the Chadakoin River and to complete a floating debris collection system around the Warner Dam.
Even though it was part of the DRI program, DeJoy gave an update about the West Second Street piazza project. In 2017, city officials received $140,000 for the project through the state Regional Economic Development Council program. Along with the $263,288 local match from the Gebbie Foundation, the project improved the aesthetics of the area by adding decorative brick, additional landscaping and new lighting, which was scheduled to be implemented this fall, but DeJoy said will now be done in the spring. The appealing urban public square provides a pedestrian-friendly feel while connecting the National Comedy Center and Northwest Arena. The public piazza, which was used for the first time for a block party during the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, will be closed to vehicle traffic during events at Northwest Arena or the National Comedy Center. However, when there is no event, the street is open to vehicle traffic. DeJoy said the project came in under budget from the originally estimated $700,000 projection.
In addition to the development projects, DeJoy also discussed how many demolitions occurred and will be taking place this year in the city. He said to date 16 demolitions have been completed. He added city officials are aiming to complete 25 by the end of the year or early 2019. DeJoy said a large amount of the funding that went into the demolitions came from the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. Other demolitions city officials completed were paid for with federal Community Development Block Grant funding.
DeJoy said city officials completed 100 more housing code inspections in 2018 than in 2017. He said three code enforcement officers handled 7,988 inspections this year. He noted the addition of allowing people to go online at the city website — jamestownny.net — is helping to increase the number of complaints filed.
“(This year) was a very busy year and we will be busy again in 2019,” he said.