Developers, city to apply for $950,000 for Lincoln Building

The owners of the Lincoln Building intend to seek up to $950,000 in state funding to kick start the next phase of renovations to the Public Square landmark. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

The owners of the Lincoln Building intend to seek up to $950,000 in state funding to kick start the next phase of renovations to the Public Square landmark. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

The owners of the Lincoln Building intend to seek up to $950,000 in state funding to kick start the next phase of renovations to the Public Square landmark.

Owners Brian H. Murray and Mark S. Purcell want to apply for funding through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application process for a $450,000 grant that would pay for a portion of the Phase 2 improvements.

The application is due Friday.

Mr. Murray said Empire State Development funding would be used on addressing the building’s “infrastructure” so that the building’s upper floors could be “immediately” occupied. It would go toward plumbing, electrical and HVAC upgrades and making improvements to common areas, its stairwell and replacing the elevator.

The projected cost for the next phase is about $1.8 million.

“We’re working on getting tenants to share our vision for the building,” he said, adding that his company continues to market the building.

So far, the developers have invested $1.3 million in restoring the five-story facade on the Public Square side and has lured its first storefront tenant, a yoga studio, to move in. The J.B. Wise parking lot side of the building has six floors, while the structure contains nine storefronts, in all.

If the state money can be obtained, two tenants would move into the building, 89-99 Public Square, said Christina J. Schneider, Purcell Construction’s chief financial officer.

A potential commercial tenant would take up an entire upper floor, while another business would occupy a first-floor storefront, she said.

The city also would apply on behalf of the developers for another $500,000 in CFA funding through the Main Street program. Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, said the Main Street program “would be a good fit for the program.”

Administered by the state’s Office of Community Renewal, the Main Street program provides funds to stimulate reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use commercial districts located in urban, small town areas.

The “Downtown Anchor” portion of the program helps establish or expand cultural, residential or business anchors that are key to local downtown revitalization efforts. That funding would be used for substantial interior and/or exterior building renovations, Mr. Lumbis said.

In 2012, Mr. Murray, owner of Washington Street Properties, and Mr. Purcell, owner of Purcell Construction, purchased the Lincoln Building from a Long Island corporation for $500,000.

The North Country Regional Economic Council also will receive CFA applications — sort of a one-stop shop to obtain state funds for different kinds of projects — for three other Watertown projects.

The city’s Planning Department is applying for:

Completing a $60,000 study on how to connect downtown with two Black River city parks, the Veterans’ Memorial Riverwalk and Whitewater Park. The funding through the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. has suggested the city find ways to attract more people to the Black River.

Developing a downtown revitalization plan through a 50-50 matching grant through the state. The downtown plan is considered crucial because it would map out the future of the central business district. It would cost in the $50,000 to $70,000 range.

Making improvements to the 50-space parking lot at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Now a gravel lot with potholes, the area sits immediately behind the grandstands and is used for Watertown Bucks minor league baseball, Watertown Y patrons, soccer, lacrosse and other games and activities there.

The city should hear by the end of the year on the CFA applications, which are also due on Friday.

By Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times