By working to restore the City of Jamestown as an important center of community activity, Gebbie hopes to positively impact the local economy and quality of life for residents of the city and the region. Redevelopment of the city can also help to reduce sprawl and preserve the integrity of surrounding landscapes that contribute to Chautauqua County’s identity as a beautiful place to visit and live.
Chadakoin River Renewal – Community Jewel
Have you been to the Chadakoin River in Jamestown? Few people are aware of its presence, yet others enjoy fishing there, walking along the nascent Riverwalk, and kayaking its waters. Jamestown’s beginnings and early prosperity were due to the ability of early industries to harness power from its rapids and transport goods to numerous communities along connecting waterways to Pennsylvania. Community leaders are working to return the Chadakoin to a position of central importance for Jamestown’s recovery.
Recommendations from both the 2006 Jamestown Urban Design Plan and its 2019 update, Jamestown Urban Design Plan 2.0, stressed the importance of increasing access to the river for community and economic development. To that end, community partners worked together to improve the Riverwalk, increase access to the river with a walkway from Second Street, and connect the northern and southern shores with two pedestrian bridges. There is much more work to do.
With grants from the Gebbie Foundation and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, Roger Tory Peterson Institute staff researched and developed a bathymetric study (study of the river bottom) of the Chadakoin from McCrea Point to “the Basin” (the wider area of water across from the National Comedy Center). The purpose of the study was to determine what impediments to small, motorized watercraft might exist. As a result of the study, we learned that boat travel is possible with the removal of logs and other minor obstructions.
Community partners are working to develop a Business Plan for river development, identifying costs to each project that is to be undertaken, such as:
- Removing obstacles to boat travel, such as submerged or semi-submerged logs and spikes
- Installing a safety boom and trash catchment system above the Warner Dam (under downstream pedestrian bridge);
- Developing an evacuation plan should boaters capsize and be stranded at the safety boom;
- Developing boat docking facilities in the basin;
- Installing a buoy system to distinguish the boat channel;
- Development of parking near the basin and/or just upstream of the Narrows; and
- Widening or deepening of the Narrows to mitigate navigability during high-water events.
As evidenced by the success of Canalside in Buffalo and countless other cities throughout the world, increasing public access to waterfronts improves livability for residents, draws tourists and encourages retail development. Jamestown is in the beginning stages of returning the Chadakoin to its position of importance to the people and the economy of the city.
“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
National Comedy Center (NCC)
Leading up to the opening of the NCC were several downtown projects, all geared to assist in making sure our city was ready to welcome visitors in the best way possible. Working with the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC), many of the departments at the City of Jamestown and other local partners, the Gebbie Foundation supported the creation of the Ambassador Program, development of public bathrooms, purchase and installation of streetscape features, the construction of the Piazza, design and installation of the temporary wayfinding system and many more efforts geared to prepare and provide the best possible experience for people visiting Jamestown. The Foundation will continue work with partners to improve the downtown experience for residents and visitors by supporting collaboration between attractions, increasing access to the waterfront and incentivizing building and business owners through investment in JRC programs.
Jamestown Piazza and the Canopy of Lights
Made possible through a successful New York State Consolidated Funding Application submitted by the City of Jamestown and significant investments by the Gebbie Foundation and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (CRCF), the “Piazza” project includes the resurfacing of a portion of Second Street spanning from the Northwest Arena to the National Comedy Center and the installation of a canopy of lights over the street. The “tired” asphalt road was transformed by the installation of brick-colored pavers and completed in record time just before the August 2018 opening of the Comedy Center.
Key plans such as the Jamestown Urban Design Plan (2006) by Goody Clancy, the City of Jamestown Traffic and Streetscape Enhancement Plan (2008) by Bergmann Associates, and the Jamestown BrandPrint (2010) by North Star Destination Strategies all identified wayfinding as a critical means of helping visitors move around the city. Anticipating the opening of the National Comedy Center in the near future, with an estimated draw of 114,000 people annually, a group of community stakeholders met in 2016 to brainstorm ways to fund a comprehensive wayfinding plan for the City of Jamestown. A proposal was submitted and the City was subsequently awarded $400,000 through the New York State Department of Transportation to plan and implement permanent wayfinding in the downtown core. The Gebbie Foundation provided the required match of $100,000.
When it became apparent that permanent wayfinding would not be completed in time for the opening of the Comedy Center, the Gebbie Foundation worked with the City, Bergmann Associates and Jamestown Renaissance Corporation to develop and install temporary wayfinding signage.
Jamestown Urban Design Plan 2.0 (UDP 2.0)
Adoption of the Jamestown Urban Design Plan in 2006 gave those involved in city revitalization efforts a road map to follow for 12 years. As a result, the award winning Plan by Good Clancy led to many downtown developments such as improvement of the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk, renovation of the Wellman Building into 44 market-rate apartments and the construction of the National Comedy Center. In fact, Goody Clancy was awarded the gold 2018 National Planning Achievement Award for Implementation from the American Planning Association for its success in preparing a plan that was an effective guide for development within the downtown core.
In order to continue strides toward the city’s revitalization, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation applied for and received a New York State Consolidated Funding Application award to secure an updated plan that they called Jamestown Urban Design Plan 2.0. Once the plan has been completed in early 2019 and goes through the process of adoption by the City of Jamestown, the Gebbie Foundation anticipates continued investment in the downtown guided by UDP 2.0.
Downtown Building and Business Incentives
Through a grant to the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC), Gebbie Foundation invests in building and business incentive programs within downtown Jamestown. Specifically, JRC provides grants to business and property owners to complete renovation projects and relocation in the downtown core, an area that has been identified to include 2nd and 3rd Streets from Washington Street to the Spire Theater. For information on these programs, please refer to their website at www.jamestownrenaissance.org or contact JRC at 716-664-2477.
Northwest Arena Development
Next Chapter for the Arena
The Gebbie Foundation’s Board of Directors recently committed $3 million to the Arena for an infill construction project that will maximize the use and earning potential of the facility. During the first phase of the project a 3-story addition will be built on the underutilized patio on the south side of the building, allowing for the construction of office, retail and exhibit space to lease to organizations that might include the National Comedy Center. The second phase of the project will include the development of KidZone, a year-round sports-themed activity center for youth. KidZone will incorporate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) principles while giving young people the opportunity to explore a wide variety of sports activities.
Impact on Community
When the idea of constructing an ice arena became a reality in 2002, community stakeholders hoped the addition of the new facility would spark a change in the distressed west-end of the city. The Arena has accomplished this and much more generating over 250,000 turnstile visits per year, spurring the development of a hotel (newly refurbished La Quinta in 2018) and drawing thousands to our city to participate in hockey tournaments, attend comedy shows and a variety of other events. One could argue, the successful construction and operation of the Arena convinced community leaders, government entities, foundations, developers and business owners that much more was possible in Jamestown. Examples of significant recent developments and projects currently under construction include:
- $7.4 million adaptive reuse of the 5-story Wellman building into 44 market rate apartments, office space and two retail storefronts in 2012
- $2.3 million investment over 5-year period into the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk Trail
- $2.0 million construction of 2 pedestrian bridges over the Chadakoin River linking the south and west neighborhoods of Jamestown and providing access to the Riverwalk
- $3.5 million in the rehabilitation of 36 building façades in the downtown
- $50 million adaptive reuse of the train station and adjacent building to create the National Comedy Center that opened August 1, 2018
- $14 million development of a Hilton DoubleTree Hotel (to be completed in 2019)
- $2.4 million adaptive reuse of a former W.T. Grant Department Store into the Jamestown Brewing Company