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A diamond in the rough: City sizing up potential Jamestown resurgence (10 photos)

City of Sault Ste. Marie openly wonders what kind of investments are in store for neighbourhood during James Street Market, Jane's Walk

The City of Sault Ste. Marie’s planning division held its recurring ‘Jane’s Walk’ - following in the footsteps of Toronto-based urban renewal advocate Jane Jacobs - in the Jamestown area Saturday morning, with the James Street Market event serving as the backdrop.

As a small group of citizens worked their way from the market and down James Street toward the former Queen West Variety, tour guide Alan Spadoni - whose business, Spadoni’s Furniture, has remained a mainstay in Jamestown since James Street Hardware and Furniture Company opened for business in 1918 - wove together a number of stories about the people and events that shaped the neighbourhood.

Spadoni, standing with the Jane’s Walk participants at the intersection of Queen and James, told SooToday that he’s encouraged by the city’s interest in the area.

“The city’s been paying a lot of attention to the area - good attention,” Spadoni said. “We’ve got a market going down in this end, and they’re just showing some good, positive involvement in the area, so I’m a proponent of that, for sure.”

“I’ve got a stake here, I’ve got my business here,” he continued. “My family’s been in these parts for a hundred years.

Noticeably present for the Jamestown edition of the Jane’s Walk was mayoral incumbent Christian Provenzano.

“We’re here to get some feedback from people and hear what people have to say and what the residents of the area would like to see, and gentlemen like Mr. Spadoni - longtime business people that really have a long, rich history in the area,” said Provenzano. “At this point we want to hear what they have to say.”

Provenzano referred SooToday to city planner Peter Tonazzo, who also took part in the walking tour.

When asked specifically about what kind of designs the City of Sault Ste. Marie has for Jamestown in the future, Tonazzo indicated that the area has the potential for some sort of urban renewal down the road.

He also pointed to the city’s ‘Shape the Sault’ initiative, a recently-launched project that’s in the process of undertaking a review of the city’s official plan by “establishing a new vision, goals and aspirations for today and the future,” according to the Shape the Sault website.

“It’s an extremely rich history in this area, I think not only is there a very rich history, I think there’s a great deal of potential,” Tonazzo said. “When I look through this area through the eyes of a planner, I mean all the elements are here for a complete, vibrant neighbourhood.”

“You’ve got residential density, you’ve got a mixture of dwelling units throughout,” he continued. “Literally within a two minute walk you’ve got kind of a commercial strip area.”

“We’re close to the downtown, we’re close to the water. I mean there’s just a ton of potential here.”

As the group of Jane’s Walk participants listened to Spadoni speak to the history of the Jamestown neighbourhood, the sounds of music and chatter could be heard down the street at the James Street Market.

Provenzano calls Jamestown a “diamond in the rough.”  

“The city is looking at this area, and is considering what kind of investments they can make in the area to help the area thrive,” Provenzano said. “I think the activity you’re seeing in this area over the last couple times we’ve held markets is very positive.”

“We believe this neighbourhood is a real diamond in the rough, and with some time and attention...we think it can resurge.”

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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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