County To Receive Development Funding

Chautauqua Brick, located at 34 Harrison St., could potentially be relocated in Jamestown after city officials received $100,000 in state funding for a riverfront development project. City officials would like to redevelop the industrial site into a more suitable recreation spot along the waterfront. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

More than 20 projects in Chautauqua County will be receiving more than $5 million through the state Regional Economic Development Council program.

In total, 22 Chautauqua County projects received $5,676,150 as was announced during the 2018 award ceremony announcement Tuesday in Albany. The largest award went to the Welch’s Building Redevelopment project that received $1 million. County Executive George Borrello said the transformation of the former Welch’s building in Westfield into a multiuse structure with commercial, retail and residential units aligns with the region’s smart growth principles.

The proposed project would preserve and repurpose a historic structure, helps revive the downtown district and encourages investment in an underutilized building. The 48,000-square-foot building was the former headquarters of Welch’s Foods until the 1980s when Welch’s moved its headquarters out of state and sold the building, leaving it three-quarters empty.

The town of Westfield acquired the property in 2014 to preserve and stabilize it. The proposed renovation includes updating or replacing building mechanicals, windows and roofing; addressing accessibility; and reconstructing the interior to create much needed commercial and retail on the first floor, and residences on the second and third floors.

“We have a developer who is interested in taking the Welch’s Building and turning into a mixed facility, with businesses on the first floor and residential space on the second and third,” Borrello said. “The village has been growing and one missing element is residential space within walking distance of the downtown. This will be a key in growing the village even further.”

Another project in the county to receive funding is the AgriAmerica Fruit Products factory revitalization project that received $498,600. The funding will go toward AgriAmerica purchasing grape juice factory machinery to use in manufacturing and storage of different strength juices made from locally grown grapes for distribution to multiple markets.

“AgriAmerica is already running and this will allow them to expand even further,” Borrello said. “Agriculture is the largest industry in the county and the expansion of the processing plan will help our grape growers.”

The largest award for the city of Jamestown is $500,000 for the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church bell tower and front porch stabilization project.

The Rev. Luke Foder said church officials have been renovating the structure since lightning struck one of the tower’s turrets in September 2013.

Fodor said church officials discovered several structural issues when analyzing the church that was opened in 1894 following the lightning strike. He said a consultant was brought thanks to a $45,000 state grant in to provide feedback on the upgrades that should be made to the church. The consultant said the complete restoration project to prevent water and weather damage would costs $1.6 million. He added with the $500,000 state grant, church officials are half way to the project goal.

“We will now priortize the project to see what we will do first. Our church leadership will meet tomorrow to discuss that,” Foder said. “We’ve got two big projects. The front porch will cost about $200,000 to $300,000 and the bell tower will cost between $250,000 to $800,000. We are delighted with the award so we can begin the work, but it is both exciting and daunting at the same time, and we have a long way to go until we are complete. At least two or three more construction seasons.”

Since 2011, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council has received more than $490 million in funding for economic development projects. Last year, Chautauqua County received more than $9 million for 23 projects through the REDC program, the most it has received during the first seven rounds of the program. The county received $4.7 million for 23 projects in 2016; $7.7 million for 27 projects in 2015; $3.8 million in 2014; $3 million in 2013; $1.475 million in 2012; and $5.2 million in 2011.

In 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo established the 10 regional councils to develop long-term strategic plans for economic growth for its region. The councils are public-private partnerships made up of local experts and stakeholders from business, academia, local government and non-governmental organizations. The councils have redefined the way New York invests in jobs and economic growth by putting in place a community-based, bottom-up approach and establishing a competitive process for state resources.