Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Some businesses in Jamestown's historic downtown are sporting a new look thanks to a federal grant for building improvements.

With the Jamestown facade improvement program now completed, Tuolumne County officials reported last week that six buildings received more than $207,000 in cosmetic upgrades in the town's commercial district.

Under the program, businesses were able to apply for up to $50,000, with each participant required to pay for some of the improvements. The project is funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which awarded a grant in 2009 for up to $300,000 to complete the work.

Kamm's, Charley's Books, Catherine's, Terry's Sew and Vac, Clip and Cut, Stogies and Time Travelers all received facelifts through the program, including exterior stone, doors and windows, awnings, signs, exterior lighting and painting.

"It's opened it up quite a bit," said Terry's Sew and Vac owner Terry Owsley, whose wife, Liz, owns Clip and Cut in the same building in downtown Jamestown.

"We've gotten a lot of compliments from people about the front," Owsley said.

When the program was originally announced, 18 businesses expressed interest in participating. The improvements were available only for businesses with five or fewer employees, including the owner, and where the owner has an income below 80 percent of the county's median income.

Only seven businesses completed the process, at least partially due to economic changes, said Terry Cox, a consultant who worked with the county on the project.

When the bottom fell out of the economy, "many of the businesses that applied originally … either went out of business or moved out of Jamestown," Cox said.

The CDBG is a federal program meant to fund affordable housing, infrastructure improvements and poverty-related programs.

The facade improvements will be the latest of a series of beautification efforts in Jamestown. Main Street, which runs through Jamestown's historic downtown, received a facelift in 2009 through a $350,000 project. The job included new street lights, sidewalk improvements and planters for greenery.

A handful of adjacent roads will also see improvements in the coming months in the form of new sidewalks, curbs, bus stops and other pedestrian amenities on Willow, Seco and Ninth streets. A project that also includes two bus stops with turnouts, shelters and lighted crosswalks at Seco Street and Fifth Avenue, is meant to improve pedestrian connections between downtown and both Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and Jamestown Elementary School.