News & Updates

Neighborhoods Rise to the Challenge

Ellis house

When the Lakeview Avenue Community Action Project has its holiday party later this month, it will mark the end of a busy year in that neighborhood and the six other neighborhoods that participated in the 2014 Renaissance Block Challenge.

It was a busy year in two ways. First, over 70 property owners in the seven Renaissance Blocks worked on a wide range of exterior home improvement projects. Some repainted their homes while others fixed their porches, freshened up their landscaping, or replaced a front door. Some projects were small and simple while others transformed the look of an entire home – creating what Mary Maxwell, who directs the project, calls WOW! houses.

Altogether they invested $173,000 into their homes and neighborhoods while receiving $60,000 back from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation in the form of small matching grants. That makes it the biggest year so far in the four year history of the Renaissance Block Challenge, bringing total investment over that period to $573,000 by 215 participants in 22 neighborhood clusters. Continue reading

Filling Knowledge Gaps with Downtown Data

Downtown map

How many people work in downtown Jamestown and which sectors employ the most people? What percentage of space on upper floors is occupied and by what uses? What are the average rents for different types of space? What proportion of storefronts house non-retail activity?

It’s been well over a decade since current and reliable answers existed to many of these questions, leaving property owners, businesses, real estate agents, and planners to guess about crucial characteristics regarding the downtown marketplace, how it’s changing, and the best strategies for improving it. Continue reading

Sharpening Jamestown’s Marketing Message

1930s Chamber brochure

“Will the last person leaving town please turn out the lights.”

Variations of this phrase have been uttered in Jamestown and many other cities during economic downtimes. Real estate agents in Seattle even paid for billboards with this message in 1971 when that city was stricken by layoffs at Boeing.

Besides creating the dramatic imagery of an outbound stampede, cliches like this mask the complexity of population change. In any city not facing some imminent catastrophe, there are four moving parts to the population equation: people moving in, people moving out, people being born and people passing away. Continue reading

Smart Demolition Strategy Brings Addition By Subtraction

liberty 36

Good news arrived for Chautauqua County’s neighborhoods and Main streets this month when Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that his office will grant the Chautauqua County Land Bank another $1.3 million to battle vacancy and blight.

This brings the Attorney General’s total commitment to the Land Bank since late last year to $2.8 million – all part of an effort to combat blight statewide with funds received through the National Mortgage Settlement with major banks.

Most of this funding – $2 million – has been dedicated to demolition. Between now and the end of 2016, the Land Bank will use the money to partner with local governments on the demolition of 120 dilapidated residential properties (60 of them in Jamestown) and up to 10 mixed-use properties on commercial corridors throughout the county. Continue reading

Bridge Predicament Points to Opportunity


A transportation experiment has been unfolding for the past few months on South Main Street in Jamestown – and you’ve probably been a participant.

It’s an unintentional experiment in traffic calming that stems from a maintenance issue at the bridge that connects downtown with Brooklyn Square. Some stones on this historic double arch bridge – parts of which date back to the 19th century – have fallen into the Chadakoin River, forcing engineers to close the bridge’s western sidewalk and narrow its roadway in both directions. Continue reading

As City Evolves, Flexibility is Key

Thurston Block

When Dr. J. Hamilton Thurston decided to dabble in real estate development in the 1870s, he was taking a chance. Not only was he branching out from his successful dentistry practice, but he was trying to popularize a type of housing that was relatively unknown in western New York – row houses for the well-off.

His block of five upscale Victorian homes on East 4th Street, built between 1875 and 1880, were designed to provide Jamestown’s elite families with an alternative to the rambling mansions that were the norm and to mimic the row house neighborhoods being built by the wealthy of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and other East Coast cities. Continue reading

Looking Good for a Good Reason

Holmlunds sign

New signage went up earlier this month at Holmlund’s Wallpaper & Paint, right next to the North Main Street viaduct. The sign caps off a complete overhaul of the building’s exterior by owner Andy Jochum.

It also caps off the polishing of the entire city block between West First Street and the railroad that began last summer with assistance from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation. The buildings there are among 36 exterior renovation projects in downtown Jamestown supported by the JRC since 2008 in partnerships with downtown building owners and City Hall. Continue reading

Calling all entrepreneurs



By Frank Besse

Do you have a great idea for a new business in Jamestown? A bookstore? A spice emporium? A zip line across the Chadakoin River?

Consider unleashing your idea this fall at the Pearl City Small Business Pitch Fest, a new event from the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation that will feature presentations by local entrepreneurs looking to launch or expand their businesses. The goal is to give these brave souls the opportunity to share their vision with key members of the business community and the general public. This exchange of ideas is a way to foster the relationship-building essential to the success of a business.

This initiative, modeled after successful efforts elsewhere, is part of a new phase in JRC’s promotion of development in Jamestown. Those efforts began in 2008 with partnerships between JRC, the city, and downtown property owners to restore the faded exteriors of numerous downtown buildings and boost the appearance of targeted alleys. To date, 36 façade improvement projects have been completed or are currently underway. In many cases, these improvements have helped turn old buildings from apparent liabilities into real assets – beautiful examples of how to blend artistic expression and commerce. Continue reading

Help expand Potters gALLErY


Potters gALLErY has been bringing color and vibrancy to downtown Jamestown for five years by incorporating art from talented local students into the urban landscape. And for the fifth straight year, the gallery is set to expand — but the JRC needs your assistance.

A crowd funding campaign has been started on Indiegogo to raise $2,100 towards the installation of seven new pieces selected by the arts faculty at Jamestown High School. Contribute to the campaign through the end of August to help make the expansion possible and to take advantage of some cool perks.

Visit the campaign’s page at Indiegogo to learn more about Potters gALLErY, the proposed expansion, and to contribute. Every bit helps!


GROW Jamestown: Follow the Signs

PHOTO_Grow Jamestown Front Garden Program

Small garden signs will be popping up across Jamestown this month. You’ll see them nestled in flower beds and planter boxes from Hotchkiss Street to Hallock Street and from West Virginia Boulevard to West 18th Street.

The signs will be distributed as part of the GROW Jamestown Front Garden Recognition Program, now in its fourth year. Over 60 volunteers will be working with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation through the end of July to survey every city street and deliver signs to gardens that are colorful, well-tended, and set a high standard for their corner of Jamestown. Continue reading