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New owner says O’Reilly Auto Parts store still coming to Arsenal Street

in Local Business 233 views

WATERTOWN — Months ago, work abruptly stopped on turning the former Rite Aid store on Arsenal Street into an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, leaving city officials to wonder what happened.

The new owner of the building still hopes that the Missouri-based chain will be moving into the 11,000-square-foot space at South Massey and Arsenal streets.

The new owner, Dennis Wood, of Haskell, Oklahoma, said Tuesday that he’s still working with O’Reilly to locate in the old Rite Aid store.

Mr. Wood purchased the building under WTOL Arsenal LLC for $1,622,250 at a foreclosure auction in May. The building and 1.01 acres is assessed at $2,234,000.

His attorney, William D. Farrar, said that the chain has told him the store will now open in October. The lease was worked out with the previous owner.

The general contractor on the building had completed just about all of the interior and exterior work when workers packed up and left. The building has sat idle for months since then.

When he purchased the building, Mr. Wood thought all the work was finished on it so that the store could open. Last week, his attorney’s office called the city code enforcement office to see what was needed.

“O’Reilly has some finishing work,” Mr. Farrar said.

O’Reilly’s corporate office could not be reached for comment.

Dana Aikins, city code enforcement supervisor, said his office sent a certificate of compliance to the owner’s attorney on Monday notifying his office of building inspections that are still needed.

Prior to the updates from Mr. Wood and his attorney on Tuesday, city officials were puzzled about what was happening with the auto parts store.

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Food Truck Frenzy brings new flavors to Watertown

in Food/Local Business 224 views

WATERTOWN — Vendors filled the western parking lot of the Salmon Run Mall on Sunday for the monthly Food Truck Frenzy, which brings unique offerings to the north country.

Food trucks, craft stalls, nonprofit informational booths and small shops scattered the parking lot for most of Sunday afternoon. Trucks, some from as far away as New Hartford, Oneida County, were offering authentic Filipino food, fresh lobster rolls, Italian ice, pizza and much more. Vendor tents with toys, yard games, clothing, sunglasses and accessories also dotted the lot, all featuring the wares of local small businesses.

Ms. Bailey sais she started the monthly festival last year, as a way to bring more diverse offerings to Watertown and give people another activity to choose from on weekends.

“I was trying to get some stuff out here for our community to do, because we don’t have much,” she said.

Autumn Bailey, who runs 315 Artisan Market in the mall, is familiar with coordinating multiple vendors together and organizing events. Her shop features items from north country artists.

Patrick and Christine Crump had a stall set up featuring their handmade items, from cornhole boards to shelving, all made with designs meant to appeal to people they respect.

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Fort Drum soldier brings authentic Texas-style barbecue to north country

in Local Business 524 views

McKinley D. McBride, a soldier from Texas who’s had five deployments, is bringing his home-cooked Texas-style barbecue to the north country with his new made-to-order business.

Mr. McBride, who has been a soldier for 19 years and is set to retire in a few months, has been stationed on Fort Drum for the last two years. He said he’s proud of his military career, but it’s his work in the kitchen that brings him perhaps more fulfillment, and people in Watertown are starting to take notice. He’s surprised and humbled to be filling what at times seems like a culinary void in the region.

Mr. McBride opened Meals With Mack in March, serving home-cooked authentic Southern barbecue to residents on and off post. From smoked ribs, chicken, salmon, fried catfish, macaroni and cheese and shrimp and grits, Mr. McBride is delivering fresh meals that take hours to prepare and cook from his home on North Pleasant Street. That’s the Southern technique and style, as his influence comes from growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. His grandfather taught him how to smoke and grill meat, while his grandmother and mother taught him how to cook macaroni and cheese, fry catfish and make shrimp and grits.

“Cooking is really my passion,” he said. “It’s therapeutic. I love being in the kitchen. It’s something I’ve always done.”

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Drive-up window will be added to Watertown Chipotle

in Food 2,547 views

WATERTOWN — Customers will soon be able to order their burritos and other Mexican-inspired meals from Chipotle without getting out of their vehicles.

Chipotle Mexican Grill will add a drive-thru window at the restaurant in City Center, a sprawling commercial plaza on Western Boulevard.

On Tuesday, the Watertown Planning Board approved the site plans that allow the project to move forward.

Customers will place their orders through the Chipotle mobile app or via its website, then pick them up in what the national restaurant chain calls a “Chipotlane,” all without having to leave their cars.

A Chipotle representative told planning board members that the project doesn’t include adding “an order board,” so customers must order their food before they get to the restaurant.

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AAA holds ribbon-cutting for new location in Watertown

in Local Business/travel 509 views

WATERTOWN — AAA had its grand opening of a new office on Outer Washington Street on Tuesday.

A few dozen people, made up of AAA staff, state police, local elected officials and community members came out to 19472 U.S. Rte. 11 on outer Washington Street, where the new office was opened.

AAA had an office next door that is now set to be dismantled as it moved into its new location. The dismantling of the old building will allow the Washington Summit complex to be more integrated and safe.

“We know they had other opportunities to go into the city or town or other offices, but they stuck with us,” said Michael E. Lundy, a local developer and landlord at the Washington Summit complex where AAA is. “They trusted us, and in today’s world that’s important.”

The new office will be even more efficient in providing customers with roadside and travel assistance, sales and insurance, said Tony Spada, AAA WCNY president and CEO.

John Johnson, who is on the AAA Board of Directors and helped coordinate the move, said he was pleased to see AAA’s recommitment to Watertown and the north country, and he stressed the helpfulness of AAA when it comes to traveling.

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New bar and grill at a former oil-change business serves up humor, sarcasm

in Local Business 219 views

WATERTOWN — Don’t fret if a server at a new Washington Street bar and grill puts a hat on you and makes fun that you’re not a perfect customer.

Shannon M. Exford, owner of The Bad Apple Garage, just wants to make her new restaurant a fun place to go.

“Sarcasm and humor” are served up with the menu at the new bar and grill, located in a former oil change business at 1120 Washington St., she said.

Humorous signs are displayed around the bar that once was the location of garage bays for the former Fast Lube of Watertown.

The Bad Apple Garage opened on Tuesday.

The bar takes on a repair garage motif. The interior features red and white colors for a reason; they were prominently displayed on the old Fast Lube business, she said.

Miss Exford — who owns two other restaurants and bars, The Bad Apple Saloon on Arsenal Street and The Wicked Bad Apple in Glenfield — had no intentions of opening a third restaurant.

She planned on starting a catering business as a spin-off for her restaurants. But before she knew it, The Bad Apple Garage was what she ended up with.

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

in Local Business 254 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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Downtown clothing store moves to Salmon Run Mall

in Local Business 422 views

WATERTOWN — During last year’s holiday shopping season, merchant Marylois Queal thought about moving her downtown clothing store, Loft 315, to the Salmon Run Mall.

But she figured she would stick it out at her Franklin Street storefront.

A few weeks later, she found out she would have to close for at least three or four months while Neighbors of Watertown and Jefferson Community College proceeded with the construction of JCC’s education center.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Queal, 46, opened her business in the mall to avoid being in limbo for months.

“I love it here,” she said, stressing that she doesn’t regret the move.

She’s done more business in two days than she would have for an entire month at the downtown location, the businesswoman said.

She’s leasing about 3,200 square feet — about 2½ times more space than downtown — in a store next to the Torrid store.

For now, she’s the only employee of the business she began in 2019.

She’d like to initially add a couple of part-time employees and then expand that to eight in the future.

With the move, she’s expanding from her own brand of jeans she’s sold at Loft 315 to “more general clothing” that fits with the mall atmosphere, Mrs. Queal said.

It’s not the first time that she’s worked at the mall. Her first job was working in the children’s department at Bon-Ton, then at the Lerner’s Shop, and she helped open the Disney Store there in the mid-1990s.

“I feel like I’m back home,” she said.

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Renewable energy company proposes 520-acre solar project in Rutland, Watertown

in Enviroment/Local Business/Local News 315 views

WATERTOWN — A San Diego-based renewable energy company is proposing a 110-megawatt, 520-acre solar project in the towns of Rutland and Watertown.

The Rutland Center Solar Project would be built along Route 126 and Route 12, straddling the town lines of Rutland and Watertown. Borrego Energy is the developer.

One of the biggest solar projects proposed in the north country, the solar array is expected to produce enough electricity to power more than 18,000 homes, according to Borrego company officials.

The company has not started the application process with the state Office of Renewable Energy Siting. Construction is planned start in 2024 and it would not be in operation until a year later. The project would follow ORES’ 94-c permitting process and environmental review for large solar projects.

Borrego plans to file the application by the end of the year. The company also has a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority under the 2020 Renewable Energy Standard solicitation.

“It’s in the early stages,” Borrego Senior Project Developer Leah Grossman said.

The company held an open house on Thursday at the Watertown Fire Department station, giving residents a chance to find out more about the project.

A few residents attending the open house said they had been aware of the project for a couple of years. The company was not required to start the public outreach for another four months.

“We wanted to get some public input early on,” Ms. Grossman said.

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Watertown T.J. Maxx store moving up the road to Towne Center plaza

in Local Business 457 views

The local T.J. Maxx store is moving into the former Bed Bath & Beyond space in Watertown Towne Center.

According to Jefferson County clerk records, T.J. Maxx officials signed a 10-year lease on March 3 with COR Development, the Syracuse company that owns the shopping plaza on Route 3.

Since 1993, T.J. Maxx has operated just down the road, in the Price Chopper plaza at 1283 Arsenal St.

A T.J. Maxx corporate spokesperson declined to comment about the move.

“Although we appreciate your inquiry, T.J.Maxx has not announced any store changes in Watertown, NY at this time,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The Bed Bath & Beyond store closed in December 2020 as part of 60 store closings nationwide.

On Monday, the Watertown Town Planning Board approved a sign for the new location. Allied Signs and COR Development presented the sign proposal, Planning Board Chair Pamela D. DeSormo said.

The representative of the sign company told the Planning Board that he didn’t know when the new store will move or other information about the move.

Last week, a memorandum of lease was signed by T.J. Maxx officials Alicia Kelly, executive vice president and secretary, and David Averill, senior vice president and corporate tax director, and COR General Manager Jeffrey L. Aiello.

The T.J. Maxx store will be joining Target, Petco, Michaels, Ulta, Old Navy, GameStop and other retailers.

There’s also apparent interest in the former TGI Friday’s restaurant that closed in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

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