Hearing Set On Gateway Lofts Project

The Gateway Center is the proposed location for the new Gateway Lofts project to house non-violent offenders going through addiction treatment programs. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed city housing development for non-violent offenders going through addiction treatment programs.

On Tuesday, the city Planning Commission approved scheduling a public hearing on the proposed Gateway Lofts project at the Gateway Center, located at 31 Water St. The commission approved holding the public hearing prior to its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 16.

During the commission meeting, the project developers outlined their plans for the Gateway Lofts project. Project developers at the meeting included Steven Ald, Southern Tier Environments For Living real estate development director, Steven Ricca, Bond Schoeneck & King attorney, Matt Mazgaj, Phillips Lytle attorney, Jacqueline Chiarot Phelps, YWCA executive director, and Tami Berg, Community Helping Hands executive director, who presented the plans and answered questions about the four-floor renovation project to the current Gateway Center.

The proposal includes two of the four floors of the apartment building being used to house non-violent offenders going through addiction treatment programs. The third floor of the renovated building will be for YWCA case management clients. The floor will be secured and the YWCA will provide 24-hour, seven-days-a-week staff to support single parents and children. This floor will have 16 apartments, with one, two and three bedrooms.

The fourth floor of the building will be operated by STEL for people in treatment programs. The 25 one bedroom and studio apartments on this floor, which will also be secured and staffed by STEL, will be for nonviolent offenders with mental health or drug addiction issues.

There will be a referral process for tenants in the third and fourth floor apartments.

The second floor of the apartment complex will be quality, affordable housing for families, with 39 two- and three-bedroom apartments. There will be a lottery system to determine who will be able to rent the second floor apartments. The first floor will continue to be used by the nonprofit agencies located in the building like Community Helping Hands, St. Susan Center and Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County.

Ald said with help from state Sen. Cathy Young the project partners, which include STEL, YWCA and Community Helping Hands, received $970,000 to develop the design of the Gateway Lofts. He said they will apply for funding for the estimated $34 million renovation of the former Chautauqua Hardware Property, which was constructed in 1897. He added they expect to apply for the funding in November or December and expect an answer between March and June of next year.

Ald said there will be no prison released inmates at the proposed apartment project. He said the apartments for the STEL floor would be for those who might be involved in drug court or as an alternative to jail. He added there will be no sex offenders allowed. Also, to stay at the proposed site a person needs to be homeless.

Ald said they have already qualified to be a part of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Cleanup Program. He said some chemicals and oil contamination has been discovered to qualify the project for the state Brownfield program.

Greg Rabb, commission chairman, said he has heard from people in the community that Jamestown already has too many people living in the city who require social services. He asked if the group had looked outside the city for a possible location.

Ald said they looked at potentially using Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk once it is closed and the hospital’s new location is constructed. However, he said with the social services available at the Gateway Center, they thought that location was a better.

Rabb also said the Gateway Center is considered to be located in a “food desert,” which will make it difficult for those staying at the proposed site to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Ald said, technically it’s not a food desert because the site is one mile away from Tops Market in the South Side Plaza, which means it is on the boundary of being classified a food desert. Mazgaj added that they might incorporate a place to purchase food into the plans for the first floor. He also said the St. Susan Center is located in the building as well.

Jeff Lehman, city public works director, said he was concerned over the lack of parking for the possible housing complex. He also said there is a lack of a playground area and greenspace.

The group proposing the project said they understand they will have to request a variance to have few parking spots that the city code requires.