WATERTOWN — Scaffolding will be going up this week on a side of the former Masonic Temple as its owners get ready to stabilize additional pieces of the landmark from falling to the ground.

Building co-owner Robert J. Campany said Friday that workers will replace some ripped netting that was installed a few years ago to keep the building’s cornice in place.

The work includes ensuring that the cornice will stay intact while the owners figure out how the building’s facade will be reconstructed, Mr. Campany said.

Other work is slated to resume in the spring after the coronavirus pandemic halted plans to get the renovations underway on the Washington Street landmark.

The owners obtained $500,000 in state funding to repair its crumbling facade.

Next spring, they’ll complete some “selective demolition” before the facade will be repaired, he said.

“It’s a long way off,” he said.

The owners installed a chain-link fence to keep pedestrians away from the falling pieces on the building’s south side.

Mr. Campany and his partner, Augusta Withington, who co-own Fourth Coast Inc., a renewable energy company in Clayton, are credited with saving the historic 101-year-old building from demolition.

They’ll use $500,000 in Restore NY money to complete this phase of the overall $5.4 million project on the Greek Neoclassical building.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing the owners to rethink the project and what to do with the interior of the building, he said.

With offices on the first floor, the hope has been to turn the Mason’s grand meeting room on the second floor into a performing arts center.

The owners have a signed contract with the state to receive $1.2 million in state Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding for the project.

So far, the developers have invested $600,000 to replace the roof, to stabilize the building and complete other improvements.

The hope has been to turn the renovated historic structure into a tourist destination that brings visitors downtown.

In 2013, the Clayton business owners saved the historic Masonic Temple from the wrecking ball when they purchased it by paying $32,439 for its back taxes.

Fourth Coast Inc. has since attracted several tenants to its first floor, including The Tunes 92.5 FM WBLH radio station.

Three years ago, the city received $10 million in DRI funding for downtown revitalization. With the pandemic causing construction delays, those projects are in varying stages of completion.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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