News & Updates

Could Co-ops Strengthen Local Economy?


The recent decision by Con Agra to shut down its Carriage House plants in Dunkirk and Fredonia, resulting in the loss of over 400 local jobs, reveals once again how decisions made in distant places can have a significant impact on the local economy. But what can be done to bring decision-making, or at least more of it, closer to home? How can workers have more of a say in the direction and future of local enterprises, with an eye towards generating wealth that stays and circulates in their own community?

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Reaping Dividends from Historic Assets


Over one million buildings, sites and objects in the United States are on the National Register of Historic Places, the Department of the Interior’s official inventory of historic resources. Among these, over 90 percent are located in one of 13,000 federally-recognized historic districts, including the downtown areas of Fredonia, Westfield, and Warren. Over 600 buildings, alone, are included in the Chautauqua Institution Historic District.

How many does Jamestown have? Not many. Only six buildings in the city are on the National Register. And, for now, the city has no federally-recognized historic districts. Continue reading

Finding Renewal in Soil and Seed


As Jamestown makes the jarring transition from polar vortex to vernal equinox, subtle signs of spring are popping up around the city.

Some of these signs remind us how green and colorful Jamestown will be in just a month or two, and about the close connection between green thumbs, attractive neighborhoods, and a healthy city. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Celebrating New Life at the Winter Garden

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Four years ago this week, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and its partners began a project that has changed the face of North Main Street: the demolition of Winter Garden Theater and the construction of Winter Garden Plaza. After years as a great movie house, the Winter Garden became abandoned and blighted. After a thorough analysis of redevelopment costs and alternatives, it was decided that the site would be more productive to downtown Jamestown as a small park. Continue reading

Moving Beyond the Magic Bullet

The Lucy Desi Center is pushing forward with a plan to build a "National Center for Comedy" in Jamestown.

[Editor's Note: This editorial is a follow-up discussion to a story published on March 2, 2014, about the National Comedy Center.]

Cities frequently fall prey to the seduction of the “magic bullet,” the project that promises to solve a slew of civic ailments in one fell swoop.

From sports stadiums, to convention centers, to flashy new museums, such projects are notorious for failing to live up to their supersized expectations. And more and more evidence suggests that public investments in such projects have a track record of disappointing returns.

There’s something quite different, though, about the National Comedy Center, the big new project now underway in Jamestown spearheaded by the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy. Continue reading

In Upstate Cities, Recognizing the Power of Peers

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In 2012, a group of citizens in Oswego, NY, decided to do something about the disinvestment that was steadily eroding stable neighborhoods in that city of 18,000 on Lake Ontario. As they explored their options, they came across some information about Jamestown. They learned about efforts here to stimulate reinvestment on targeted blocks, to empower neighborhood leaders, and to find productive new uses for vacant lots.

Inspired, these Oswegans commissioned a neighborhood plan similar to the one Jamestown adopted in 2010. They formed the Oswego Renaissance Association to steer the plan’s implementation. And today, several projects are underway with support from a local foundation and the energy of excited residents, whose efforts were recently highlighted on a public radio documentary ( Continue reading

Time to Re-think Free Parking


How can downtowns compete with suburban shopping centers and their acres of free parking? Provide the same. Just remove parking meters and make way for an influx of retailers and customers.

At least that was the conventional wisdom for many years. But it hasn’t worked. Continue reading

Movies Go Digital, Downtown Moves Forward

The Reg Lenna Center for the Arts is the premier theater in Jamestown, NY. The theater originally opened in 1923 and has been a gem of Chautauqua County ever since.

Next month, almost 91 years to the day after opening as Jamestown’s grandest movie house, the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts will be showing its last film. Not its last movie, but its last movie on actual film, as it makes the conversion to the Digital Age.

Over the next few weeks, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation is proud to support the “last films on film” at the Reg, every Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m., ending with “About Time” on Feb. 8. Admission is $5. Continue reading