Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

A good example of how long a revitalization project can take: 25 years in Jamestown, NY for their railroad station

Jamestown Erie Railroad StationOur NZ correspondent Nigel calls our attention to the reuse of the old Erie Lackawanna railroad station in Jamestown, New York for a new National Comedy Center and Hall of Fame.

The piece, "25-Year Development Odyssey: The National Comedy Center Finds a Home in Jamestown’s Historic Train Station," by low power community radio station WRFA.  Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, hence the connection to comedy.

From the article:
The Center, which comes with a combined cost of $35 million between the money invested in the Train Station, as well as the NCC build out, is expected to attract more than 100,000 annual visitors and have a $23 million annual stabilized economic impact on the region.
The piece provides a detailed timeline of the 26 years it took to:
  • raise money for renovating the building
  • do the renovation once funding was secured
  • find a good use for the building once it was ready to be reoccupied.
and is a great illustration of how long it can take to bring such a project to fruition.

It's also an example of why I often laugh when people complain at community meetings about a project not being finished within six months... as it is I am familiar with a number of projects in DC that take 13-20 years.


A cool thing about the low power radio station is that it is an initiative of a local community arts center, Reg Lenna Center of the Arts. In addition to the radio station, the Reg Lenna Center has a large historic theater, a small theater and an art gallery. Similarly the low power station in Takoma Park, Maryland, WOWD-LP FM, was sponsored initially by Historic Takoma, the community historic preservation organization.

Larger organizations have the capacity to be innovative, to seed and support innovative new projects. But frequently they do not.

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