Governor Cuomo Announces Grand Opening of Rehabilitated Woolworth Building in Watertown


$16.6 Million Project Transformed Historic Downtown Landmark into New Housing and Retail Space

View Photo of the Completed Building Here

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 20, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the rehabilitated F.W. Woolworth building in Watertown. This historic landmark, which was one of the nation’s earliest F.W. Woolworth stores, has been transformed from a downtown eyesore into a vibrant building with 50 units of affordable rental housing and ground-level retail space.

“A symbol of the past has become a sign of vitality for this city,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through coordinated efforts between state, local and private sector partners, this historic building now provides the residents of Watertown with housing that is safe, affordable and energy efficient, while attracting new life and business activity to the downtown area.”

The $16.6 million project was completed through a number of tax credits and grants from state entities, including:

· $9.5 million in New York State Homes and Community Renewal Low Income Housing Tax Credits
· $4.6 million in New York State Parks and Historic Preservation Historic Tax Credits
· $2.5 million Empire State Development’s Restore New York Communities Initiative Grant
· $45,000 New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Incentive Grant

The gross rents (rent plus utilities) of the housing units range from $543 to $769 per month and are affordable to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income.

Senator Patty Ritchie said, “The W.T. Woolworth building is an anchor of Watertown’s downtown and its revitalization is bringing jobs and business opportunities to this historic district. This project represents the growing recognition of the opportunity that exists in our North Country communities.”

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell said, “The North Country’s rich history should be celebrated even as we build towards a brighter economic future. The renovated Woolworth building is an example of how we can build on the past without leaving anyone behind by offering affordable, efficient housing through the use of effective partnerships.”

Watertown Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said, “Governor Cuomo’s Administration was key to making this project happen, which will result in jobs, housing and a much improved downtown.”

New York State Homes and Community Renewal CEO James S. Rubin said, “We are delivering on Governor Cuomo’s commitment to create, preserve and maintain affordable housing opportunities. Woolworth Watertown is a prime example of results that can be achieved with cross-agency cooperation.”

New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “I applaud the public-private partnership that helped make possible the preservation and reuse of a building connected to Watertown’s history. Investing in historic structures encourages sustainable neighborhoods and preserves the unique character of our communities. From 2012-2014, State and federal preservation tax credits have resulted in $2.5 billion of investment in historic properties in New York State.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “ESD, in partnership with other State agencies, has transformed the historic Woolworth Building into the cornerstone of Watertown’s downtown, which will encourage business growth and job creation. Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of the community leaders and local officials who helped make this happen.”

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO John B. Rhodes said, “The rehabilitation of the Woolworth Building is a wonderful example of how public private partnerships can transform communities. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, and through the collaborative efforts of all involved with the project, this project provides energy efficient affordable housing and retail space that will spur economic development in the local community.”

Georgica Green Ventures President David Gallo said, “Georgica Green Ventures deeply appreciates Governor Cuomo’s commitment to the North Country. We are thrilled to have worked with New York State Homes and Community Renewal, TD Bank, Empire State Development, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, the City of Watertown, and Raymond James to revitalize the historic Woolworth Building. This building was an integral part of Watertown’s past and will now continue to serve the City for years to come providing much needed housing in the downtown historic district.”

The development team consists of Georgica Green Ventures, LLC, and White Birch Enterprises, LLC, the co-developers; LeCesse Construction and Purcell Construction Corp, the general contractors; Crawford & Stearns Architects and Preservation Planners, the architect and historic consultant and Cornerstone Property managers, LLC, the management agency. The project is owned by Woolworth Watertown, LLC.

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