Over the past few weeks, The Post-Journal has chronicled some of the upper floor development projects happening in downtown Jamestown.
Such activity is a stark contrast with downtown as it was seen by Goody Clancy official when they wrote the Urban Design Plan in 2006. The plan's architects saw a downtown inhabited mainly by senior citizens and a few renters and advocated for more downtown housing because it provides a new use for long-vacant or underused properties; expands the customer base for existing and potential businesses and cultural activities; and should add a human presence downtown after office workers leave downtown at 5 p.m.
The plan saw the potential demand for as many as 150 units through roughly 2011-13. While the development hasn't happened exactly where Goody Clancy officials thought it would, the investment downtown has seen already is positive for downtown. Big projects like the Wellman Building, a $7.4 million project that added 44 market rate apartments downtown, or smaller one-apartment projects such as Jim Walton's upper floor redevelopment above I've Been Framed on North Main Street or above Mason's Fine Arts on Third Street are harbingers of better things in the future for downtown.
Each of those projects are a statement by an investor or property owner that downtown Jamestown is a place worthy of investment. It is a statement of belief that better things are ahead for downtown - whether it's new attractions, new restaurants, a busier nightlife - and that those better things will make people want to live downtown.
It is easy to remain negative about the future of downtown. After all, downtown has seen a decades-old pattern of business flight. City development officials and Jamestown Renaissance Corp. officials spearheaded a massive facade restoration effort in recent years to improve downtown's look. Investors and property owners are working on the upper floors. Now, city officials and their nonprofit sector partners have to actually build the better downtown we have heard so much about.
There is much work yet to be done, but we should take heart in the investment we have seen already. Better things are coming.