WATERTOWN — Jefferson Community College has not given up on the JCC Downtown TechSpace Center announced as a part of the 2018 Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
While there has not yet been a firm location, or even final plans for the project, college officials said planning will continue once the college rebounds from the coronavirus pandemic that shut down educational centers nationwide in March.
JCC at first had trouble finding a suitable space downtown and then turned to studying how to make the center financially sustainable.
In February, college officials said they were considering downsizing the project from 30,000 square feet to 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.
On Wednesday, Karen Freeman, JCC spokeswoman, said the project is on the back-burner while college officials focus on the reopening of the college from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s still under consideration, but it’s not a focus right now,” she said.
In the past week, the project came up during two separate economic development agency meetings. On Tuesday, Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said at the Watertown Local Development Corporation meeting that he heard that the college was no longer going to go forward with the project.
At last week’s Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency meeting, the project came up as a board member asked whether the college would be interested in moving the business center into the former Concentrix call center on Arsenal Street where the Watertown Family YMCA plans to open its community center. Other board members said that the college wasn’t interested in the Concentrix space because the downtown project wasn’t happening.
Ms. Freeman said she could not speculate why local economic development officials think that the JCC project wasn’t moving forward, only that college president Ty A. Stone told her that it was just on the back-burner.
Ms. Freeman said the college has “no definitive time frame” when the project may proceed, saying that the college reopening efforts were its priority right now.
The community college was awarded $2.5 million in DRI funding and awarded another $4 million in State University of New York funding for the project.
The state Department of State, which oversaw the DRI process, and the Empire State Development Corp. were excited about the prospects of the project when it was first proposed.
Ten other DRI projects were in varying stages of completion before the coronavirus halted construction in March.