WATERTOWN — Dr. Jason White envisions a drastically different downtown a year from now, with several $10 million DRI projects already completed or underway.
Dr. White, chairman of the Advantage Watertown committee, learned on Thursday that the renovation of three upper floors of the Lincoln Building, funded by $825,000 in Downtown Revitalization Initiative money, should be completed by the end of the year.
That news generated excitement among Advantage Board members about downtown’s continuing renaissance during a Thursday morning meeting.
“At this time next year, I’m hoping to see shovels in the ground and more changes,” said Dr. White, who heads the group of business and community leaders in monthly brainstorming sessions on downtown and city issues.
In addition to the progress to the Lincoln Building, a $305,000 project to rehabilitate five vacant apartments in the historic Paddock Arcade should be restored and ready for occupancy soon after the first of the year.
The Lincoln Building and Paddock Arcade will be the first two projects finished from the $10 million DRI grant that the city was awarded in 2017. Several other DRI projects are slated to begin soon.
The Lincoln Building’s second, third and fourth floors will feature private offices and co-working spaces, Mr. Murray said, which will allow entrepreneurs to share amenities.
Initially, half of the second floor will be devoted to the co-shared office space, where startup companies can rent space, desks and small offices in the Public Square landmark.
They can share copiers, printers, conference rooms and a kitchenette. There’s also a networking aspect of the co-working centers, Mr. Murray said.
The space is designed for startup businesses that are currently in basements and garages and are ready to move out of the home and into informal professional space, he said.
“These spaces are popping up in areas all over,” Mr. Murray said.
He’s already attracted a new tenant, an existing professional services firm, for half of the building’s fourth floor.
The fifth floor also eventually will be renovated.
He’s looking for more tenants for the upper floors and asked Advantage Watertown members if they know of businesses in need of space and to send them his way.
A microbrewery, yoga studio, insurance company and spa are already doing business in the Public Square storefronts.
Mr. Murray is investing between $6 million and $7 million in the building, with about $4 million in this phase of restoration. It includes adding a new elevator and stair tower.
Last week, the first step of the project began with environmental remediation and asbestos abatement. The Watertown developer is waiting to get approval from the State Historic Preservation for the design drawings.
Donald G.M. Coon III, managing partner in 200 Washington St. Associates, which owns the Paddock, said the five market-rate apartments in the Paddock have already been gutted and are ready “to be put back together.”
The one-bedroom units with views of Public Square will feature “as much as the brick as we can because that’s what people want,” he said.
The apartments haven’t been occupied in about 20 years and would not undergo restoration if not for the DRI money, he said.
Besides the five apartments, the Paddock also is receiving $435,000 to make improvements inside the common areas of the building. That work is slated to start next year.
The glass roof will be restored and radiant in-floor heat and air conditioning will be installed. The building’s glass skylight system also will be improved.
On July 25, the Jefferson County Historical Society is kicking off its Golden Rose capital campaign. The historical society obtained $506,000 in DRI funding that will be used with $675,000 in other state funding to build an elevator for the historic mansion and to replace its leaky roof.
The Evening in the Garden event will feature a ground-breaking ceremony and butterfly release.
During the winter, work stopped on major repairs to the former Masonic Temple’s crumbling exterior. That project will kick back up in the coming weeks.
The owners received $2.2 million from the DRI program and $500,000 in Restore NY funds toward to transform the historic building into a performing arts center.
Eight other projects will be completed with DRI funding.