A Vibrant Downtown
Downtown Jamestown has great architecture, charming streets, and many vibrant and creative enterprises.
Jamestown Renaissance Corporation coordinates revitalization strategies to build from these assets and make downtown and the adjacent riverfront more attractive for new residents, new businesses, and new investment.
Altogether, the JRC has directed over $2 million into downtown projects, leveraging significant levels of additional public and private investment. The Gebbie Foundation and Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency have been the primary financial sponsors of the JRC’s downtown revitalization efforts.
Jamestown is a small city with a big heart and a bold plan for our downtown. Our vision is clear: to re-establish downtown as a vital destination, an economic engine for the region, and a place that makes our community proud.
In 2006, governmental, civic, foundation, and community partners came together to shape the Jamestown Urban Design Plan to guide downtown initiatives. The legacy of that plan is transformation of the downtown riverfront as a community destination, creation of the National Comedy Center as a world-class attraction, renewed optimism about downtown’s future, and increased private sector investment.
In 2018, JRC brought in Goody Clancy, consultant on the 2006 Urban Design Plan, to consult for a new urban design plan. For about a year, JRC stewarded the Jamestown Urban Design Plan 2.0. The preparation included tours, detailed conversations, and community input. The Urban Design Plan 2.0 was adopted by the Jamestown City Council in May of 2019.
While success has been hard won through the efforts of many individuals and organizations, downtown Jamestown still has a significant way to go to fully realize its potential. Disinvestment from Jamestown’s downtown was cumulative over several decades. It will likewise take sustained effort over the longer term to reach a full renaissance. The next ten years will be crucial to sustaining downtown’s current positive momentum. Urban Design Plan 2.0, builds on many of the themes that have guided change over the last 10 years, combined with new opportunities that are now possible because of recent successes. The guiding themes of our new plan are:
- Continue the renewal of our Chadakoin Riverfront as a community jewel— reconnecting downtown to the Outlet and the Lake
- Make downtown more walkable and better connected—transforming Washington Street into an attractive community gateway and continuing to reinvest in downtown buildings
- Recognize the potential of a growing Health and Wellness District as a vital new component of the downtown landscape—extending the Riverwalk and improving streetscape along Foote Avenue, which connect healthcare and community-serving uses to each other and the rest of downtown
- Expand on the programs and events that draw our community downtown— combining fun, free, and family activities that appeal to residents, downtown workers, and visitors.
- Downtown’s success is so important to the success of our entire community and region. We are confident that we have the vision and energy to move forward. Check out the newest Urban Design Plan here: Urban Design Plan 2.0
JRC is focused on business development throughout downtown Jamestown. We are able to offer downtown business incentives for new and existing business located in the downtown core.
Since 2006, the JRC has collaborated with private property owners and the City of Jamestown on facade improvements at over 36 downtown properties, assisted with the creation of 13 upper-floor residential units, and upgraded over 39 retail and office spaces. All of this work has occurred within a targeted area to maximize impact and spur additional private investment.
Building and Business Improvement Program
Facade improvements, storefront rehabs, upper-floor renovations, streetscape enhancements — all are eligible for assistance through JRC’s Building and Business Improvement Program. The program’s goal is to partner with private property owners in making downtown buildings more beautiful and functional for modern uses.
Commercial Lease Incentive
The Commercial Lease Incentive program provides financial incentives to businesses that are new to downtown Jamestown by reducing monthly lease rates for a defined period. A business that meets eligibility criteria may receive up to $5,000 in assistance in the first 18 months of operation.
Business owners may apply for matching grants (50% to $3,000 or 70% up to $4,000) for website development services, online marketing consulting services, and other technologies and services that progress the programs goals.
Business owners may apply for matching grants (50% to $3,000 or 70% up to $4,000) for outdoor seating furniture and equipment including tables, chairs, umbrellas, and balusters as well as City permit application fees.
Business owners may apply for matching grants (50% to $3,000 or 70% up to $4,000) for outdoor parklets as well as City permit application fees. This is a letter of interest as well as an application. No grants will be made or committed to until after the City of Jamestown approves parklets codes and design rules, completing this application does not commit you to progressing a parklet.
Downtown’s scenic alleys are a memorable part of the urban landscape. The JRC has managed five alleyway renovations, including installation of 63 pieces of student art at Potters gALLErY. Through partnership with the City of Jamestown Department of Public Works, Jamestown High School, JCC, Tom Mason, Vacanti’s Extreme Signs, Volt Vision, and the Gebbie Foundation, the JRC has turned Potters Alley into a gallery for superb art by local students.
The Winter Garden Theater was a fixture of the downtown entertainment scene for over 75 years. But after going dark in the early 1990s, the theater became a blight on Main St. After careful study of renovation options, the decision was made to bring the theater down and replace it with a public plaza. Phase One of the plaza project was completed in 2011. Today, the plaza features a patio for the Wine Cellar and space for events including Thursday concerts during the summer. In addition, the space allows for passive enjoyment of the surrounding cityscape. In 2019, Phase Two of the Winter Garden Plaza project concluded, adding additional landscaping, seating, lighting, and a covered stage area.
Another exciting addition to the downtown artistic landscape was the addition of an oversized chair located in Renaissance Square on W. 3rd St. This chair was created and donated by Fancher Chair Co. Inc. as a way to honor Jamestown’s rich furniture history, and has become a favorite photo taking spot for both residents and visitors to Jamestown.
Additional partnerships are being explored to further expand the amount of local artwork in our downtown area. Local artists, area Attractors, and staff and students from Jamestown Public Schools are working with JRC to add more art downtown for everyone to enjoy.
Over 100 buildings in downtown Jamestown were added to the National Register of Historic Places through the creation of the Downtown Jamestown Historic District in 2014.
The JRC prepared the nomination documents for the district and now works closely with property owners and prospective investors to realize the benefits of listing a building on the National Register. These benefits include:
- 20% federal income tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation of historic, income producing properties
- 20% state income tax credit to be used in tandem with federal tax credits
These federal and state tax credit programs have played a significant role in making renovation projects happen in historic downtowns across the country by making the projects financially feasible. For more information on districts and resources available to owners of historic properties, visit New York’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).