Site plans OK’d for The Mercantile

Site plans for a physical therapy office and New York Power Authority offices at The Mercantile in downtown Massena were approved by the village of Massena Planning Board. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — The Mercantile, formerly Slavin’s Furniture in downtown Massena, could be getting new tenants.

Site plans for a physical therapy office and New York Power Authority offices were approved by the village of Massena Planning Board this week. Both are permitted uses in that district.

The Downtown Massena LLC had received a grant from Empire State Development through the Downtown Revitalization Grant Program and, through a public-private partnership, used the funding to renovate the building at 14, 18 Water St. Renovation was completed in September 2019, with three apartments ready for rental on the second floor and two floors that are suitable for office and retail.

Now, said Jason Hoxie from Downtown Massena LLC, they’ve found tenants for the office and retail areas of the building.

“We have now found tenants for part of the e main level. We are proposing a physical therapy office occupying 825 square feet of the available 3,900 square feet of space. The rest of the 3,075 square feet will be available for retail or office space in the future,” Mr. Hoxie wrote in a letter to the Planning Board.

He said the office would have normal hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will have no more than two employees.

In a separate letter, Mr. Hoxie said they have found tenants for entire lower level — the New York Power Authority.

“We are proposing 14 offices with a conference room on the lower level. The lower level will be 14 offices that will house employees of the New York Power Authority,” with normal business hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and between 10 to 15 employees, he wrote.

NYPA officials said they are working to finalize the lease.

“The New York Power Authority is working to finalize a lease for office space at the Mercantile building in Massena to accommodate Project Management and other staff for several ongoing NYPA initiatives, including the Smart Path and Northern New York Priority Transmission Project. The target is for staff to begin working from the location by summer,” they said in an emailed statement.

Prior to The Mercantile, the space on the corner of Water and Main streets had been the home of Slavin’s future, and the store occupied nearly the entire block on Water Street from 1920 to 2000. But, after more than $300,000 in unpaid taxes accumulated, St. Lawrence County officials foreclosed on the property and the village eventually took possession of the building.

Downtown Massena LLC entered into an agreement with village officials in May 2013 to find tenants and redevelop the property to put it back on the tax rolls. An unsafe portion of the building was demolished and the portion that remained became The Mercantile.

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