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Commission Approves Garage Site Plan In City

The former Hartley car dealership property that is being purchased by the city to use as its new central garage area. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Another step has been taken toward city officials creating a central garage for vehicles and equipment.

On Tuesday, the city Planning Commission approved the site plan to turn the former Hartley car dealership property along Washington Street into the city’s central garage.

Jeff Lehman, city public works director, said the city will renovate the main garage area and the additional building area, plus add a storage shed to the property. He said several of the lighting fixtures will be removed because it’s no longer a car dealership lot and the number of entrance aprons will be reduced to two. He added that the current purchase of the property by the city for $400,000 from Timothy Shults is in the “hands of attorneys.”

Last month, the Jamestown City Council approved the purchase of most of the former Hartley car dealership property. Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said the city had proposed in 2019 to construct a new building on Crescent Street at the cost of $4 million for the new central garage. He said, however, since the start of the pandemic, the cost to construct a new central garage has gone up “astronomically.”

Sundquist said city officials started looking into the former Hartley car dealership and have analyzed that the property, which already has a maintenance garage, would be significantly less expensive to renovate than to build new.

He said it would cost around $2.1 million to renovate the former car dealership garage and to purchase the property.

Sundquist said the savings would be $1.9 million to renovate the former car dealership compared to building a new central garage on Crescent Street. He said the state has committed $1 million in grant funding to the city for the central garage, with the funding being used to purchase the property located at 1425-1505 Washington St.

Not all of the former Hartley car dealership is being sold to the city, Sundquist said. He said Shults is still looking for a buyer to develop a portion of the property.

On Tuesday, Lehman said a developer is interest in the section of property the city isn’t buying.

The commission also approved the sale of property to Kurt Johnson, Shawbucks owner, for the new three-story deck he wants to build on the outside of his business along West Second Street across the street from the National Comedy Center. Lehman said the sale of the property shouldn’t interfere with city utilities.

In June, the council first discussed Johnson wanting to purchase 16 feet by 61 feet of city property along West Second Street for the proposed three-story deck. In a letter to city officials, he said the deck would be used for additional outdoor seating for the restaurant and for when downtown events are being held. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, several block parties have happened along West Second Street near the restaurant, like during the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival.

Johnson said he is planning to develop space inside the restaurant on the second floor for large parties, wedding receptions and for live entertainment. He is also planning to develop the third floor of the building for smaller gatherings like corporate meetings. He added with the outside deck and new developments inside the restaurant, he would be creating 15 additional jobs.

City officials assessed the land parcel at $1,000.

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