‘A Win-Win-Win’

The former site of Jamestown Woodworking Inc. has been abandoned for decades, leading to a collapsed roof that spurred total demolition of the property Tuesday. The area is expected to be completely cleaned up in a few days’ time. P-J photos by Eric Zavinski

ELLICOTT — Snowflakes crowned the scene of a major demolition at 173 Jackson Ave., the former site of Jamestown Woodworking Inc., on Tuesday morning. The wrecking was the result of years of effort and a symbol of mutually beneficial means to an end, according to Mark Geist, CEO of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.

“It’s a win-win-win,” Geist told The Post-Journal. “We’re super excited. It’s been in a state of disrepair.”

The demolition of the property carried out by J & J Abatement preceded a two-year process in which demolition has been considered by the county, which owned the abandoned property in recent years. After the roof of the structure caved in last year, plans were made; the former furniture manufacturer building had to come down.

Geist, also the deputy county executive for economic development, with the county government and CCIDA at his side decided that ownership could be transferred to a limited liability company for the Jackson Avenue property. They were originally going to name the LLC after that street alone, but decided this could be the start of something new and more efficient for future needed demolitions in the county.

And so the Chautauqua Property Holdings LLC was born. It’s the entity that currently owns the destroyed building until the area can be transferred over to a new interested organization, which in this case, is Regal Service, the trucking company that operates the next-door distribution center for Cummins. Their plan is to utilize the extra space for a parking lot, allowing more room for large trucks to move through.

That’s why Geist described the project as so mutually beneficial for all involved. A blighted building gets removed from an area encouraging tourism with the likes of Chautauqua Harbor Hotel and Fairmount Avenue businesses; the revenue generated by the demolition boosts the economy; and the Fortune 500 engine manufacturer that is Cummins attains more flexibility with how many vehicles will be able to move in and out of the Jackson Avenue warehouse.

“They needed that extra space,” Geist said.

Ellicott Town Supervisor Patrick McLaughlin said it’s been a long time coming and is glad to see the previously unsafe property get dismantled. The building posed a safety concern to anyone who wandered inside.

“We hope this is a model for other buildings like this,” Geist said, and he hopes that Chautauqua Property Holdings will be a tool through which needed demolitions can get underway quicker.

Geist wanted to thank his colleagues, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation and Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello, who he said was the major impetus behind bringing this demolition to fruition. He said the process has gone smoothly so far and that he expects no major challenges in the ensuing cleanup of debris.

“That building has been an eyesore for decades,” Borrello said. “This is about using our resources to help our existing businesses. This is going to help a number of businesses … and the neighborhood in general.”

Borrello added that the mission to develop jobs in the area has to start with helping out current businesses like this before focus is primarily centered around bringing many new businesses to the area. He thanked the CCIDA and was grateful for their speed and flexibility in the process.

“(The demolition) is a credit to the great team that we have,” Borrello said.