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Council Approves Redevelopment Of Furniture Mart Building

The Jamestown City Council on Monday supported a $1.5 million state grant application for the redevelopment of the Furniture Mart Building P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

The Jamestown City Council has lent its support to the Gebbie Foundation, which will be submitting a state grant application for $1.5 million as part of a second attempt to redevelop the Furniture Mart Building.

On Monday, the council approved a resolution supporting the Gebbie Foundation’s consolidated funding application through the state Regional Economic Development Council program for the grant that will go toward the $20 million redevelopment project.

Vince DeJoy, city development director, said the development team that was apart of the first attempt, Ellicott Development, will not play a role in the second redevelopment try. He said several regional developers have been approached about the plan for a mixed-use commercial building, which, according to the resolution, will include an adjacent multi-level parking facility, with more than 300 spaces, and residential living units in the 172,000 square-foot, nine-story structure.

DeJoy said the Gebbie Foundation doesn’t own the Furniture Mart building, but they’re working with owner, Arthur Bailey, on the project. The building is located on the corner of West Second and Washington streets.

This isn’t the first time Gebbie officials have attempted to redevelopment the building. In 2017, the Local Planning Committee for the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative had requested $1.5 million of the $10 million program funding. However, when state officials announced the projects that would receive a portion of the $10 million in May 2017, the Furniture Mart project was not included.

Following the announcement of what projects would receive funding, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, a former gubernatorial candidate, sent a letter to the State Department of Economic Development regarding the denial of state funds for the revitalization project. Paladino, Ellicott Development Company chairman, sent the letter dated June 29 to Howard Zemsky, former Empire State Development chief executive officer and state Department of Economic Development commissioner, stating his displeasure. A copy of the letter was sent to The Post-Journal.

“We have learned that our DRI grant application has been turned down by you and the governor’s office. I can only assume that the rejection had something do with politics. That is very unfortunate for the people of the city of Jamestown,” the letter stated. “Our project was introduced to us by a local foundation whose mission it is to rejuvenate downtown Jamestown through economic development because of the positive effect it would have on the core of the city at such a critical location. We too saw the potential impact of breathing new life into an older downtown office building and adding the parking that is so vital for the area. We have negotiated a contract with the owner of the Furniture Mart building to buy the property and renovate it into a multi-use building at a high-profile location across the street from the National Comedy Center and a block away from the arena.”

In other business, the council approved submitting a $100,000 consolidated funding application to the state for the proposed new city skate park. Last week, Vince DeJoy, city development director, discussed the consolidated funding application city officials will submit to the state as part of the Regional Economic Development Council program requesting $100,000 in funding for the proposed new skate park. In January, it was announced by city officials that they had received a Tony Hawk Foundation matching grant of up to $250,000 for a new skateboard park in the city. The location of the new park will be across Jones and Gifford Avenue from McCrea Point Park. The new state-of-the-art outdoor skateboard park has also been made possible in the city with the assistance of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

SK8 JTNY is the name of the donation fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. People interested in donating can send a check to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, 418 Spring St., Jamestown, NY 14701. For more information, visit crcfonline.org. or sk8jtny.com.

The council also approved submitting the 2019 Community Development Block Grant action plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last month, DeJoy discussed the details of the 2019 CDBG and HOME program funding during a public hearing. This year city officials will receive $1,165,646 in CDBG funds, which is slightly higher than the $1,158,549 granted last year. In 2019, the city will receive $315,537 for the HOME program, which is lower than the $326,751 city officials received last year. One of the programs in the plan includes funding $100,000 toward the new skate park.

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