Paladino Has A Point Regarding DRI Reversal
Carl Paladino wants to know why a local committee’s decision to use $1.5 million for his project to restore the Furniture Mart building on West Second Street, Jamestown, was reversed by New York state.
Given the lack of transparency in the final stages of the DRI process, Paladino has a valid point.
It’s easy to see why Paladino could think politics played a role in the Furniture Mart building being removed from the DRI program. The Buffalo developer is often outspoken and sometimes rough around the edges. And, we’re sure some current state officials remember Paladino’s bitterly contested campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2010, his forceful advocacy for President Donald Trump in New York state last year and his current controversy regarding comments made about former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
There may be good reasons why state officials decided the Furniture Mart renovation wasn’t a good fit for the DRI. Perhaps the financing wasn’t solid enough. Perhaps they didn’t feel there was enough commitment from future tenants to warrant the state’s $1.5 million investment. Perhaps it didn’t fit the timetable state officials wanted to see out of DRI projects. Because the decision was made in a closed room, with no press and no formal record-keeping, no one really knows what happened from the time the local planning committee approved Jamestown’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative request in February and when the final list of state-approved projects was announced in May by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
When such decisions are made behind closed doors, conspiracy theories start to fly — and there is no record to dispute them.
It is indisputable that a restored Furniture Mart building is important for the future of Jamestown’s west end. Paladino plans to preserve 350 jobs at The Connection while moving the operation to the first floor of the Furniture Mart building, building a much-needed 350-space parking garage adjacent to the building and making the rest of the building suitable for further development. If politics aren’t the reason for the Furniture Mart being removed from the final DRI grant, we hope the project is eligible for necessary state resources in the future.