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Watertown downtown facade program facing delays

in Local News 168 views

WATERTOWN — The plan was to add 50 awnings on 10 downtown buildings by now, but the availability of contractors and materials have delayed completion of downtown’s $460,000 facade improvement project.

The work, funded by the city’s $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds awarded in 2017, was originally going to be finished a year ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has also slowed the progress of the facade work.

The Watertown Local Development Corp., also known as the Watertown Trust, is overseeing the DRI facade program, while Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is arranging the work with contractors.

Watertown Trust CEO Donald W. Rutherford and his Watertown Trust board members are worried that the city will lose the DRI funding if the facade improvements don’t get done by a state-required deadline.

It’s now crunch time to put the facade program to bed, they said.

Recently, the New York Department of State granted an extension to get the work started by Oct. 1 and completed by April 30, 2023.

“That’s 90 days,” Mr. Rutherford said. “I just don’t see it.”

But Neighbors of Watertown Executive Director Reginald J. Schweitzer Jr. said not to worry. He expects that most of the work will be done this construction season.

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Watertown hopes to sell 19 vacant lots, 4 buildings via RFP process

in Local News/Place 181 views

WATERTOWN — The city hopes to unload 19 vacant lots and four buildings that it acquired after they went through a two-year redemption period for back taxes.

The Watertown City Council has instructed staff to sell the properties through a request for proposal process, rather than auctioning them off.

The city has issued itself a deed for the properties after no one showed any interest in acquiring their tax sale certificates during an auction in June.

The four buildings are a dilapidated apartment building at 542 Cooper St.; a single-family house at 256 Pleasant St.; a former commercial building that’s been converted to a residence at 405 Arsenal St.; and a manufactured home at 850 Superior St.

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Convalt Energy buys two Watertown buildings, starts moving equipment from Oregon

in Local Business 266 views

WATERTOWN — Convalt Energy is purchasing two buildings that were once part of the city’s industrial history and now will be used to store solar panel manufacturing equipment being transported from Oregon.

The two buildings — the original New York Air Brake building on Purdy Street and a part of the Black Clawson complex on Pearl Street — will be used for warehousing until the company’s mammoth solar panel manufacturing plant in the town of Hounsfield is in operation.

David J. Zembiec, CEO of Jefferson County Economic Development, confirmed that the company will use both buildings for storage.

Equipment from a defunct solar panel plant in Oregon started arriving by truck on Monday. More than 200 trucks are hauling the equipment from a former SunPower Corp. factory in Oregon.

“They started rolling in,” Mr. Zembiec said. “They expected them to come in on Tuesday and they started coming in on Monday.”

The former Black Clawson building at 511 Pearl St., most recently used by a metal scrap company, is a 70,000-square-foot warehouse, while the Air Brake structure, at 100 Purdy St., is currently 52,000 square feet.

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