The face of downtown Jamestown has changed over the last five years. Innovative entrepreneurs and property owners are leading a process of reimagining what downtown can be, while facade restorations, reconstructed upper floors, spruced up alleys and the creation of inviting public spaces have highlighted downtown's revival and Jamestown's willingness to test new ideas.
But more needs to be done to show what downtown can be in the 21st century - not a restoration of yesterday's downtown, but a demonstration of new uses and activities.
Several projects have been instituted to support property owners and businesses and create a welcoming environment. Dozens of facade restorations have fashioned attractive storefronts and sparked discussion about upper floors. Building owners, the city and the Jamestown Renaissance Corp. have responded, partnering to construct residential loft spaces. Coupled with the Wellman Building Project and other public and private investment in downtown residential development, downtown is becoming an attractive neighborhood for artists, professionals and more.
These initiatives will continue but cannot be the sole methods for development. Addressing alternative uses for upper floor spaces, such as what Suburban Blend has accomplished in its reuse of the former Jones Bakery building, needs to become a priority in upcoming years. Drawing new business into the downtown must also become a focus. As a starting point, retail storefront development and rental incentive initiatives will be launched this year.
Other physical improvements are playing a different role. Alley enhancements, Potters gALLErY, the Urban Literary Trail, the creation of Renaissance Square, the Winter Garden Plaza and the River Park, and the ongoing development of the Riverwalk augment the above mentioned efforts and have made downtown a place to walk and explore.
Reframing what downtown is and what downtown needs to be is central to successfully implementing the Urban Design Plan, and community input is crucial to this process. The Urban Design Plan is not a static document. It provides guidelines for implementation, and the JRC continues to follow those guidelines. But adaptation, based on input from throughout the community, is imperative. More and more ideas from the community are necessary to make Jamestown a 21st-century city - and downtown its vital hub.
The Urban Design Plan was developed through a community-driven process. It was codified by the City of Jamestown in 2006. Links to plan and updates on implementation progress can be found on the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation's website: www.jrconline.org.