JAMESTOWN – The National Comedy Center (NCC) has been in ownership of the Gateway Train Station property on W. Second St. since August 2017, but it was never publicly announced.
The news of the change in ownership was made public on the “Jamestown, NY” Facebook group page by New York City resident and Jamestown native Tom Andolora.
Andolora, who still owns property in the city, made a public post Wednesday pointing out that the NCC recently acquired the train station property at no cost from Downtown Jamestown Revitalization, LCC – the corporation that had been managing and overseeing the facility since the start of 2013 when its renovation was completed.
WRFA has verified that the property acquisition did take place in August 2017 at no cost to the NCC, via the online Chautauqua County parcel map, which provides a record of property ownership as well as the cost of property acquisitions.
Andolora is concerned that the property transfer took place in August 2017, yet it was never publicly announced that the transfer was being considered or even took place once the Downtown Jamestown Revitalization board voted on the matter.
Prior to the NCC acquiring the property, it had been leasing the train station since Jan. 1, 2016. During that time it also assumed operation of the train station, though it didn’t own the actual property.
Andolora said that while he supports the comedy center and wants to see it succeed, he said he also felt there should have been more discussion and transparency before the train station property was given to the NCC.
“I don’t believe this has ever been reported in public,” Andolora wrote. “The Train Station, which used 4 or 5 million dollars (or more! The total cost was 11 million) of public taxpayer money to restore, was handed over, for free, to the Comedy Center. A five million dollar building which was restored for the public with public money was given away. I find this very troubling. The Comedy Center paid nothing for this beautiful building.”
Of the federal funding provided, the project received $4.5 million in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds, funding secured by Congressman Brian Higgins. That funding is typically earmarked for transportation projects across the country. While the NCC is not a transportation project, officials have said the center concourse of the train station will remain open to the public and could eventually serve as a visitor welcome center and access point to future excursion train service.
In addition to the Train Station property, the NCC also acquired the former Jamestown BPU substation at the corner of W. Second and Washington Streets in early 2015, but paid $130,000 for that property.
The assessed value of the train station property is $500,000.
The NCC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, meaning it will not pay property taxes for any of the property it owns. It is scheduled to open on Aug. 1, 2018.