Applications Sought For Block Challenge

The focus area of the 2019 Renaissance Block Challenge 2.0. The new Jamestown Renaissance Corporation neighborhood improvement program will focus on the area around Allen Park and UPMC Chautauqua along Foote Avenue.

The rebirth of a renaissance has started in Jamestown.

The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is accepting pre-applications for the new Renaissance Block Challenge 2.0. Since 2011, 45 neighborhoods have participated in the original Renaissance Block Challenge, with 450 property owners investing more than $1.3 million in exterior improvements and repairs. Last year was the final for the original format of the Renaissance Block Challenge.

In the past, all neighborhoods in Jamestown were eligible to apply for the matching grant.

The Renaissance Block Challenge 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. In 2019, however, the Renaissance Block Challenge 2.0 will focus on improving neighborhoods in a particular area of the city.

Following the 2017 Housing Market Analysis and Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy study, which was performed by czb LLC, the block challenge program will start to focusing on four specific areas of the city for housing revitalization. The areas include the northside of the city around Lakeview Avenue area along North Main Street; the westside around Fairmount, Hall and Livingston avenues; the southside around Hazeltine/Forest avenues; and the eastside around Allen Park and UPMC Chautauqua along Foote Avenue.

For the first year of the new block challenge, Mary Maxwell, JRC neighborhood project associate, said after many discussions with community partners, including Chautauqua Opportunities Inc.; Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation and Improvement Corporation; Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp.; the city of Jamestown; and local foundations, the eastside area around Allen Park and UPMC Chautauqua was selected as the 2019 target area.

Property owners in the target area who want to participate in the 2019 block challenge 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, Maxwell said. The pre-applications is available on JRC’s website, jamestownrenaissance.org, under “Healthy Neighborhoods.” The pre-applications will need to be submitted to the JRC by Friday, Feb. 15th, 2019, to be considered for next year’s program.

Maxwell said 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 pre-applications will be reviewed and then invitations will be given to the final applicants, who will be announced in March. In the final applications, participants will outline the exterior improvements and skills they can bring to projects in their cluster. The final applications will be due by Friday, April 19, 2019.

Maxwell said 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,” Maxwell said. “And on top of that, and more importantly, there is an increase in communication among the neighbors.”

Maxwell said past participating neighborhoods now host annual block parties, neighborhood sales and group participation in volunteer activities.

People can learn more about the block challenge application process by attending one of two informational workshops, with the first one being held Jan. 10, 2019, at 6 p.m. an UPMC Chautauqua auditorium and the second one being held at 10 a.m. at the JRC offices, located at 301 E. Second St., Suite 301. Both workshops will provide the same information. Workshop attendance is not required, but it is recommended.

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.

For more information, contact Maxwell at 664-2477 or email her at mary@jamestownrenaissance.org.

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