Crystal facade project on hold

The Crystal Restaurant at 97 Public Square in downtown Watertown. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — Restoring the facade of the iconic Crystal Restaurant on Public Square might have to wait until next spring.

The Crystal and several other downtown buildings will receive facelifts under the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s facade program.

But no one has bid on the projects, Donald W. Rutherford, the local development corporation’s CEO, told his board members on Thursday.

Mr. Rutherford didn’t know why any contractors were not interested in the facade work.

“They might be busy,” said Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director and Watertown Trust member.

The exterior of several downtown buildings will be renovated with $400,000 from the city’s $10 million DRI program.

The local development corporation is overseeing the DRI facade projects, while Neighbors of Watertown Inc. is arranging the work with contractors.

Mr. Rutherford said he plans to meet soon with Reginald J. Schweitzer, Neighbors’ executive director, to figure out their next step.

There’s also an issue with replacing the original tile on the Crystal Restaurant building. The owners may have to special order the tiling, causing that project’s cost to increase, Mr. Rutherford said.

Several months ago, the restaurant’s equally iconic sign was removed and sent off to be restored. It won’t be put back up until the facade work is finished.

Crawford of Crawford & Stearns, a Syracuse architect and preservation planning firm, will design the work on the building’s exterior.

The owners also want to complete renovations on the building’s upper-floor apartments. The facade work on the building will be completed first.

Under the facade program, downtown building owners can apply for a maximum of $25,000 to fix up their facades and receive 75 percent of their costs for facade projects. Larger projects could receive bigger chunks of DRI funding.

About eight building facades will be completed with the DRI money. Two other projects — the Brownell Abstract building at 135 Park Place and a commercial and apartment building at 221-231 State St. — have been reviewed for the work.

The Watertown Trust also received $600,000 in DRI funding to run a rental assistance program.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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