It’s time for downtown to regain its pre-COVID momentum | News, Sports, Jobs


Downtown Jamestown appeared to be gaining momentum prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opening of the National Comedy Center and anticipated payouts from several downtown building renovation projects provided a new sense of energy and vitality reminiscent of the Northwest Arena’s opening in the late 1990s.

COVID-19 stalled much of that momentum. Many businesses have struggled to persevere with government-mandated closures and restrictions. Major project developers pulled out before their projects came to fruition, while other businesses like the Jamestown Brewing Company, which were seen as new downtown anchors, shut down before they could even get started.

In other words, the pandemic has been tough.

But we shouldn’t settle for the level of activity we’re currently seeing downtown. We can and should do better. The Urban Design Plan 2.0, completed in 2019, has some interesting recommendations that focus on closing street-level gaps on Second and Third Streets, particularly from Washington to Main Streets, although we think the focus should extend as far as Jamestown High School. As Goody Clancy Associates officials note on page 47 of Urban Design Plan 2.0, “The revitalization of these streets will have the greatest effect on improving the downtown image.”

We couldn’t agree more. Whether it’s programs to make more ground floor space ready for a new tenant, pop-up programs, or events where organizers work with building owners to temporarily utilize that space, there are actions the city and its nonprofit partners are taking can reinvest in the city center and increase the economic vitality of the city center. The news that the Furniture Mart building has a potential developer is good news. But we’d be even happier to bring long-vacant storefronts – like the recently filled CHQ Plus on Third Street and Cherry Street – back to life.

Someone needs to lead funding and recruitment initiatives. Who is ready to ascend?

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