EDITORS NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect additional comments provided by building owner Arnold Duke.
JAMESTOWN – A piece of Jamestown property that was selected to receive $1 million in state funding to help revitalize the downtown is back up for sale.
The former Key Bank building at 200 N. Main Street in Jamestown is on the market for $500,000.
According to public records, the building has been owned by The Duke of Jamestown, LLC since October 2016, when it purchased the building for $110,000. The LLC is owned and operated by developer Arnold Duke. Less than a year after the purchase, the property was named one of the recipients of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant program, announced by the state in May 2017. At the time of the announcement, it was announced that Duke had planned to redeveloped the building into a mixed-used building with office, retail and residential uses.
“Transform a mostly abandoned bank building in the center of downtown Jamestown into a mixed-use downtown anchor which will increase residential opportunities, bring new commercial activity, and create jobs in the downtown,” the grant award booklet stated. “The renovations will provide 10,000 feet of office space, 8 market-rate apartments, a restaurant space, 4-6 pop-up retail spaces, a wine tasting room, and an escape the room-type attraction.”
In a feature story about the project that appeared in the Jamestown Gazette in August 2018, Duke had said he projected a grand opening “in about 16 months”, which would have put the grand opening date in January 2020. But that never occurred and work on the site actually stopped prior to the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Now the building is back on the market, with a sales price that is nearly five times higher than what Duke spent to buy it back in 2016. However, that increased cost is likely due to the amount of work and remediation – including asbestos removal – that went into the renovation effort prior to the work stoppage.
WRFA spoke with Duke Monday morning to learn more details about the sale. He explained that due to a number of setbacks – the pandemic, an ongoing divorce battle, and a serious personal health issue he’s only recently been able to recover from – he’s been left with no option but to step away from the project.
“My main business is the International Gem and Jewelry Show,” Duke said. “But because of the pandemic, we’ve not been able to hold or participate in any shows and that’s been a significant financial hit. My recent hospitalization and multiple surgeries, combined with an ongoing divorce battle, have also played a significant role in the decision to unfortunately step away from the project.”
However, he said that in addition to anyone interested in buying the property, he’s also willing to enter into a partnership if they wish to no own the building.
“I love the city of Jamestown and still want what’s best for its downtown development and I think this building can be a key component in making that happen,” Duke told WRFA.
Because the project was never officially completed, Duke won’t receive any of the state money that was earmarked for it. However, city development director Crystal Surdyk says that any new owner of the building who follows through with completing the development effort could receive that money.
“The DRI grant will stay with the building. Because Arnold Duke did not complete the project, he, nor his company, will be eligible to receive any reimbursement from the DRI,” Surdyk said in an email to WRFA. “That said, a new developer will have to work with the state to develop a project that is in alignment with the intent of the DRI and will need state approval in order to develop the building with DRI funding.”
Surdyk didn’t say if there was a deadline for when the funding must be appropriated. There have been other proposed projects that were to receive the money, only to have it reallocated to another project. That includes some of the $600,000 in funding that was given to the city for a Downtown Event Programming fund administered by the Jamestown Local Development Corporation, as well as $670,000 that was originally intended to help bring a passenger excursion train service to the city.
A requirement to spend the money sooner rather than later was the motive for reallocating the remaining money in the Downtown Event Programming fund. According to Surdyik, the city was instructed by the state to spend it elsewhere because of the pandemic and the uncertainty of when major downtown events could occur again. That funding will ultimately be redirected to help entertainment-based businesses and organizations weather the financial storm caused by COVID-19. But for the former Key Bank building, it appears the state is willing to wait until new ownership comes on board, prior to redirecting the money elsewhere.
In the meantime, anyone interested in learning more about the Key Bank Building, or a potential partnership with Duke can call Tom Turner, real estate broker with Century 21, at 763-7506.