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City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Furniture Mart Building Project

The City Council passed a resolution Monday authorizing Mayor Eddie Sundquist to “execute all necessary documents” for the city’s application for round six of the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant funding. The City Council held a public hearing prior to the vote. P-J photo by Timothy Frudd

The City Council passed a resolution Monday in support of a grant funding application for the renovation and restoration of the Furniture Mart building.

The resolution passed by the City Council authorizes Mayor Eddie Sundquist to, “Execute all necessary documents with New York State and Empire State Development,” if the city successfully secures $500,000 funding through round six of the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant application.

The redevelopment of the Furniture Mart building, located at 111 W. Second St., is expected to be carried out by Savarino, a development company located in Buffalo.

The City Council held a Restore New York public hearing prior to Monday’s City Council Voting session. Crystal Surdyk, director of development, presented the council with the latest update on the Furniture Mart building and the current planning process for renovations.

Surdyk explained the Furniture Mart building project is the only project in the city that currently meets all of the criteria for the Restore New York Communities Initiative grant funding application. The city successfully met the pre-qualification requirements for the grant funding that was submitted in August.

Some of the requirements for the application include the building currently having less than 50% occupancy, being located in a disadvantaged area, being considered a brown field opportunity area, meeting an empire zone qualification, and having financing prepared. To qualify for the grant funding, the project is also expected to be initiated within a twelve month period.

An agreement has been reached between the current owner, Arthur Bailey, and Savarino for the transfer of ownership, as Savarino is in the process of finalizing details for a proposed $40 million restoration of the Furniture Mart building. The Gebbie Foundation’s $2 million grant for the redevelopment of the Furniture Mart building would bring the current grant funding to $2.5 million if the city’s Restore New York Communities Initiative application is approved.

Sundquist said the redevelopment of the Furniture Mart building was a project that the city had originally hoped to initiate prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re really excited to continue forward with the Furniture Mart building,” he said. “We, along with the Gabbi Foundation, and other partners of the county, have been working with securing a new developer for that building. We’re very excited, hoping to get the Restore funding for that building and be able to move forward with its restoration.”

Sundquist said the Furniture Mart building is a significant part of Jamestown’s history as the “epicenter of furniture.” If Savarino is able to finance the restoration of the building and create a “mixed use” space with businesses and housing, he believes it will both preserve the history of the building and play an instrumental role in the city’s future.

During the public hearing, local residents, Doug Champ and Pete Miraglia both expressed concerns about the additional funding for the proposed $40 million project, the lack of details for the redevelopment project and the history of Furniture Mart building’s failed redevelopment projects.

While City Council President Anthony Dolce, R-Ward II, said the community had some concerns about the project, he said the City Council is excited for the project and committed to helping the project move forward.

“There were some concerns about details and what the next steps are,” he said. “I know people have concerns about in the past grant funding that wasn’t completely utilized and didn’t come to fruition. This is a worthwhile project. I think it’s worth pursuing. We want to help anyway we can to get that process going.”

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