Be A Part Of The 2014 Renaissance Block Challenge

If you want your neighborhood to be revitalized, now is your chance.

The 2014 Renaissance Block Challenge is happening once again to give property owners a chance to renovate their property. This is the fourth year of the program to revitalize neighborhoods throughout the city. The Jamestown Renaissance Corporation spearheads the effort to grant homeowners money to support property improvements, and to build stronger connections within a neighborhood.

Property owners can receive up to a $1,000 matching grant to pay for exterior upgrades to their homes. Each cluster must have at least five property owners intending to fix-up their properties to apply for the grant money. The application listing the properties is due by March 14. Copies of the application can be found at the JRC’s website, www.jamestownrenaissance.org. Homeowners can also request an application from Mary Maxwell, the JRC’s neighborhood project associate, by calling 664-2477, ext. 224.

Maxwell said each year the program becomes more competitive, with more interested city residents wanting the financial assistance to restore the look of their home.

”In 2013, applications were received from 12 clusters, and we had resources to work with the top four groups,” she said. ”We expect even greater levels of competition this year.”

Since 2011, 15 neighborhood clusters with nearly 150 participating property owners have received Renaissance Block Challenge status. Those properties have invested $400,000 into eligible improvements, including painting, porch repair, landscaping and a wide range of other upgrades. Once pre-applications are received in March, residents in each cluster must outline their proposed improvements for their properties, and a plan for celebrating progress and building stronger ties between neighbors. The selection of this year’s Renaissance blocks from among the pool of applicants will take place in early May.

”The top clusters each year are the ones that want to use the program to launch a wider improvement campaign in their neighborhood, by having block parties, beautification initiatives and other activities that bring neighbors together and build momentum,” Maxwell said.

In 2013, the residential neighborhoods included clusters on the south side near Fairfield Avenue and Superior Street, the west side on Hallock Street, downtown on Lafayette and Jefferson streets, and the north side on Hotchkiss Street. Each participant will receive up to $1,000 in matching funds to offset their expenses, and access to discounts from local garden center and hardware stores.

The program has been supported in the past by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; the Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation; the Lenna Foundation; Northwest Savings Bank; the Chautauqua County Housing Trust Fund; the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce; and the Darrah Fund. Businesses that have provided special discounts to participants have included Brigiotta’s Farmland Produce and Garden Center; Mike’s Nursery; Chautauqua Brick; Everyday’s True Value; and Sandberg Kessler.