Development of Downtown Watertown

Aerial view of downtown Watertown.

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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. [Read more…]

Murray acquires three more downtown properties

Brian Murray purchased 505 Washington St. in 2014 through a bank foreclosure. He has now purchased adjacent buildings at 513 and 531 Washington St. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Brian Murray purchased 505 Washington St. in 2014 through a bank foreclosure. He has now purchased adjacent buildings at 513 and 531 Washington St. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Local real estate developer Brian H. Murray has completed another property acquisition with the purchase of the four-story Rouse Building at 531 Washington St. [Read more…]

TOP Nails is latest addition at Arsenal Street plaza

Cici Le and Lyna Vo, co-owners of the new Top Nails Salon on Arsenal Street, pose for a photo in the massage/pedicure area of the salon. Photo by Stephen Swofford, Watertown Daily Times.

Cici Le and Lyna Vo, co-owners of the new Top Nails Salon on Arsenal Street, pose for a photo in the massage/pedicure area of the salon. Photo by Stephen Swofford, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — As the latest addition to the Top of the Square Plaza, TOP Nails has set out to become the premiere salon in the city for manicures, pedicures, waxing and eyelash extensions. [Read more…]

October 2015 20 Questions: On Leadership

On leadership

Lessons and advice from north country leaders

Since NNY Business began publishing monthly in December 2010, we have featured a wide-ranging, in-depth interview with a different north country business or leader 11 times a year, skipping December for our 20 Under 40 emerging leaders issue. Our 54 featured interviews to date have not been limited to the for-profit sector. We’ve sat down with nonprofit and not-for-profit leaders, and educational and health care leaders. The 20 questions that follow are the best of leadership from nearly five years of interviews. [Read more…]

Watertown landlords restore old apartment buildings to compete with newer options

WATERTOWN — City landlords have made major renovations to multifamily houses during the past five years to compete with new housing stock built in the area. [Read more…]

Tenants line up as renovations complete at Arsenal Apartments

Brian Murray has converted the former Rodeway Inn at 652 Arsenal St. into mostly studio-sized apartments. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Brian Murray has converted the former Rodeway Inn at 652 Arsenal St. into mostly studio-sized apartments. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — An open house Thursday afternoon at Arsenal Apartments, 652 Arsenal St., revealed that renovations to the building are complete and demand is high among local renters. [Read more…]

Papa John’s is latest tenant to leave Arsenal Street plaza

Papa John’s and Beyond Nerd recently moved out of the Top of the Square Plaza, and New York Fashions will be gone by the month’s end. But owner Brian H. Murray said he nevertheless is feeling upbeat about the plaza’s future.

A new sign featuring businesses that was installed about two weeks ago in front of the plaza is expected to draw more traffic, said Mr. Murray, who owns the bottom half of the building at 146 Arsenal St., below the Convergys call center.

Papa John’s moved out of the building at the start of the week, said Mr. Murray, owner of Washington Street Properties in Watertown. The Beyond Nerd electronics store moved out of its space at the end of December, but it still sells trading cards at a kiosk inside the minimall portion of the plaza facing Court Street.

New York Fashions, a clothing boutique, will move out by the end of the month and will relocate by March to Destiny USA mall in Syracuse, the store’s owner confirmed Wednesday. And Calvary Chapel North Country, which has rented space since May 2014 at the minimall in the plaza, plans to relocate to the former Globe MiniMall building at 302 Court St. this year; the building’s California owner decided last year to donate the building to the church.

Mr. Murray said Wednesday that he is not concerned about the relatively high turnover the plaza has had recently.

“We’re having some turnover in the space right now, but I do think the building improvements are going to make a big difference,” he said.

He said he was not given an explanation from Papa John’s about why the pizza franchise left the plaza, and he hopes another restaurant will move into the vacated spot.

“We’ve had a few tentative inquiries, and we’re optimistic we’ll get someone in there,” he said.

The new sign in front of the plaza entrance, which lists business names, is expected to increase traffic, Mr. Murray said. In the fall, a new sign also was installed on the Court Street side of the building by the same contractor, Kassis Superior Signs of Syracuse. He said a total of about $10,000 was spent on the two signs.

“The new sign on Arsenal Street is going to help people with spaces in the mall, in addition to signage at the mall entrance,” Mr. Murray said. “That’s going to help because customers can find places easier now. It’s such a heavily trafficked thoroughfare along Arsenal Street that there’s a lot of value having the signage out there.”

Alethia M. Lewis, owner of New York Fashions, said Wednesday that she decided to move out of the plaza due to the challenge of drawing customers in the downtown area. She said people don’t generally think of downtown as being a shopping destination.

“I’m moving out of this space because there’s no traffic here,” said Ms. Lewis, who opened the store in August 2012. “People who come here aren’t looking to shop but to do business. They go to Family Dollar or the bank. I’ve been here almost two years now and people don’t come.”

She added that Washington Street Properties increased the monthly rent in July from $700 to $1,170, which doesn’t include utilities.

“That’s another reason I decided to move out,” she said. “I chose Destiny USA because there’s a lot more traffic. The rent is only a little bit higher, but I’ll pay basically the same amount because utilities are included.”

Brad S. Walls, manager of Beyond Nerd, said the electronics side of the business was discontinued when it moved out of its space in the minimall at the end of December. The business, which has two employees including him, now sells only trading cards for Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic: The Gathering.

Mr. Walls said the business, which opened in April 2012, saved “a large amount” by moving out of its former space and operating only the kiosk.

“The cards sold better than our services and we didn’t need the whole store,” he said.

Other tenants in the plaza are Family Dollar, Jiu-Jitsu Nation, Carthage Savings & Loan Association and Rhonda’s FooteWorks.

 

 

By Ted Booker, Times Staff Writer

20Q: Brian H. Murray, Washington Street Properties

Success on the Square: For Washington Street Properties developer, risks lead to big rewards

Brian H. Murray, Washington Street Properties owner and president, in the lobby of the former Agricultural Insurance Co. building, Watertown. Norm Johnston/NNY Business

Real estate developer and Jefferson Community College business professor Brian H. Murray has his hands full. When he is not shaping young minds, he is brainstorming ways to revitalize downtown Watertown and Public Square. His latest purchases, the Lincoln Building and the Hospice of Jefferson County Building on Washington Street have garnered him increased interest from the community eager to know his plans. We sat down with Mr. Murray to talk about his plans for both buildings and his future in the north country.

NNYB: You moved to the north country in 2004 from Reston, Va. What was it about Watertown that drew you to the area?

MURRAY: I was living in the Adirondacks and I took some time off and enjoyed some substitute teaching and an opportunity came about at Jefferson Community College in the business division. I applied , took the position and moved to the Watertown area. [Read more…]