‘Pretty Confident’: JCC awaiting word on DRI funding for city

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford The Graf building is pictured on Central Avenue in Dunkirk. SUNY Jamestown Community College is waiting to learn whether $2.2 million in revitalization funds will be allocated toward a renovation project.

The renovation of the Graf building in Dunkirk to accommodate SUNY Jamestown Community College hs been ranked No. 1 out of a series of projects seeking funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

College officials are now waiting to learn whether the state will sign off on the $2.2 million allocation.

“Hopefully, we’re going to learn soon after the new year whether we’ve been blessed or not,” college trustee Lou DiPalma told the board at a recent meeting. “I think we’re all pretty confident that being ranked No. 1 that we’re going to come out of the process in pretty good standing.”

As part of its proposed transition from the North County Center on Bennett Road, JCC is looking to lease space inside the Graf building on Central Avenue in Dunkirk.

In the application for the highly competitive DRI funds, the Graf building project calls for the renovation of the property’s three floors and its basement to become a state-of-the-art workforce development training center.

Estimated to cost over $3 million, the DRI funds would cover much of the renovations, with Krog Development, the building’s owner, putting up $600,000.

Dr. Daniel DeMarte, JCC president, told trustees that college officials met with Krog on “getting into the details on use of the space, the details of the lease.”

DeMarte added, “It’s going to be an ongoing conversation for probably the next two to three months at least, but it’s underway while we’re waiting to hear from the state. We’ll keep it moving forward as best we can, anticipating that the state is going to move it forward.”

As previously touted by New York state, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative “is a comprehensive approach to boosting local economies by transforming communities into vibrant neighborhoods where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work, and raise a family.”

Trustee Dennis Drew asked for an update on the type of programming the college is looking to offer at the new downtown location. DeMarte said discussion on specific utilization is still ongoing.

“We’ll determine how to make the best use of the space we have if we’re going to move,” he said, adding that the simplest option may be for JCC to move its current offerings at the North County Center to the Graf building.

In focus group meetings this past fall, DeMarte said local employers indicated a desire for the college to offer more “fast-track workforce programming.” He said that could be an option until a determination is made on space utilization at the Graf building.

“But we still need more of our employers stepping up and telling us what it is they need,” the college president said. “We continue to press that issue.”


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