Public Square, as seen in this Google Maps screenshot

WATERTOWN — Real estate developer Jacob “Jake” Johnson is involved in yet another downtown acquisition, this time a commercial building at 101-105 Public Square.

He purchased the building with cousins Benjamin and Matthew Waldroff. The three men have acquired about a dozen other properties together in recent years, most recently Kelsey Creek Apartments with Brian H. Murray.

Mr. Johnson and the two cousins closed on the Public Square deal Thursday. They bought it for $600,000 from RPED Properties LLC, 1444 Holcomb St.

“It’s a nice, historic building,” Mr. Johnson said.

A bridal shop now occupies the 4,500-square-foot storefront in the former Square Lion antique, jewelry and coin shop. All seven apartments are currently occupied, Mr. Johnson said.

The three businessmen were attracted to the building because it underwent a total revamp with a new elevator system about 10 years ago.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Johnson is high on downtown and its potential.

He pointed out people living in big cities have a yearning for the north country’s outdoors, the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, and some have moved here.

He also said he and another set of partners are about to finally close on the former Great American grocery store on State Street after that deal lingered for a year. He doesn’t have any definitive plans for the building at this time.

“It’s something we’re still working on,” he said.

Mr. Johnson has now accumulated about 70 properties in and around the city.

Just two weeks ago, it was learned that three women plan to open a cafe in the former Club Rio nightclub, a property he purchased in September.

Some of the other properties he owns include: the Commerce Building at 26-44 Public Square; a 6,000-square-foot building at 124-132 Franklin St.; a series of commercial buildings with storefronts along Public Square and Court Street; the Riverview Apartments, 497 Newell St.; and Washington Street Manor apartments and the Rouse building, both on Washington Street.

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