May 2016 Cover Story: Economic Development

Securing a stronger future for the north country

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

COR Development’s Mercy Health Center Redevelopment project is set to begin its first phase of construction this summer on 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 108 apartments. Overall, the project will house 168 units and a community center on the grounds of the former Mercy Hospital in Watertown. Photo by Stephen Swofford, NNY Business.

Despite workforce challenges, regional economic development continues to power positive growth across Northern New York

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A rural and historically challenged region where economic development was often stagnant, the Great Recession dealt a significant blow to New York’s north country as its counties saw a spike in unemployment and manufacturing jobs disappear, including about 600 from Jefferson County alone. [Read more…]

January 2016 Cover Story: Economic Outlook

Slow and steady
growth wins the race

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

OUTLOOK 2016 / MILITARY: A soldier salutes during the presentation of the colors last year in an activation ceremony for the 10th Mountain Division Divarty. As the post avoided major cuts in 2015, Fort Drum officials remain positive that 2016 will be a healthy year for one of region’s top economic sectors. Photo by Amanda Morrison, NNY Business.

Despite a few challenges, experts say the region is on pace for a positive year in 2016. Six sectors of the north country’s economy are ripe with opportunities for growth.

By Karee Magee, NNY Business

A grim fate cast a pall over the north country in early 2015, as federal budget sequestration threatened to cut up to 16,000 personnel from Fort Drum in an effort by the army to trim its active duty force from 490,000 to 450,000 by fiscal year 2017. [Read more…]

Mercy Hospital demolition cleanup almost complete

WATERTOWN — All of those reddish bricks from three buildings that made up the old Mercy Hospital are gone. [Read more…]

Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt opens at space vacated by Yo-Johnny!

Sienna Wellein, Picton, Ontario, puts hot fudge on her frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt, which opened June 29 in the space formerly occupied by Yo-Johnny! Frozen Yogurt in the Towne Center Drive shopping plaza off outer Arsenal Street. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Sienna Wellein, Picton, Ontario, puts hot fudge on her frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt, which opened June 29 in the space formerly occupied by Yo-Johnny! Frozen Yogurt in the Towne Center Drive shopping plaza off outer Arsenal Street. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — It’s a case of out with the old and in with the new. [Read more…]

Developers say projects on track after Army spares Fort Drum major reductions

After learning that only 28 Fort Drum soldiers will be cut by the Army, developers planning projects in the Watertown area breathed a collective sigh of relief Thursday. [Read more…]

May 2015 Real Estate Feature Story: Q1

Home sales, prices rise in Q1 data

By Ted Booker, NNY Business

The prospect of troop cuts at Fort Drum hasn’t slowed the housing market in Jefferson County.

The number of homes sold in the county during the first quarter of 2015 is up from the same period last year by 17 units, or 13 percent, from 134 to 151, according to the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors. The median home price, meanwhile, climbed over the same period by $16,600, or 13 percent, from $129,800 to $146,400.

“We still had a long winter this year and the snow stuck around, but we didn’t have it coming down every other day like last year, when sales were down,” said Lance M. Evans, executive officer of the Jefferson-Lewis board. “We’re selling more homes at better prices … And there is still a core group in the military who are going to be buying homes wherever they go, instead of renting.”

Of the 151 homes sold in the county during the first quarter, 45 units, or 30 percent, were purchased by military members who secured loans from the Department of Veteran Affairs, Mr. Evans said. During the first quarter of 2014, 49 homes, or 37 percent, were bought with VA loans. And of the 910 homes sold in 2014, 293 units, or 32 percent, were bought with VA loans.

Homes bought with VA loans “have been holding at around 30 percent,” Mr. Evans said. “Barring major troop cuts, I think it’s going to continue to be a steady portion of our sales.”

Mr. Evans added that while the county’s median home prices fell in 2014 from 2013, he believes that strong first-quarter numbers this year indicate homes will likely continue to be sold at higher prices than last year. In 2014, he said, real estate brokers sold houses at lower prices largely because of the greater availability of new rental housing countywide. But the majority of the units are now occupied at some new rental complexes in the Watertown area, he said, such as the Beaver Meadow Apartments complex on Towne Center Drive and the 394-unit Preserve at Autumn Ridge complex on County Route 202.

“A lot of people moved in when units were brand new, but that has changed,” he said.

Even so, more rental units are slated to be built soon in the Watertown area.

The developer of the Autumn Ridge complex, Morgan Management of Pittsford, plans to start building a 359-unit townhouse complex this year to the east of County Route 202. And the developer of the Beaver Meadows complex, COR Development of Fayetteville, will start construction this year on an apartment complex at the former Mercy Hospital site with 160 to 200 rental units, along with retail and office space. The project is expected to be finished in 2016.

In Lewis County, statistics from the Jefferson-Lewis board show the median home sale price during the first quarter climbed from the same period last year by $18,500, or 19 percent, from $98,500 to $117,000. The number of homes sold over the same period decreased by 13 units, or 36 percent, from 36 to 23.

During the first quarter in St. Lawrence County, the median home sale price increased from the same period last year by $7,500, or 11 percent, from $68,000 to $75,500, according to the St. Lawrence County Board of Realtors. The number of homes sold over the same period increased by 8 units, or 11 percent, from 73 to 81.

The Jefferson-Lewis board has 333 Realtor members and the St. Lawrence board has 185, Mr. Evans said.

Ted Booker is a Johnson Newspapers staff writer. Contact him at tbooker@wdt.net or 661-2371.

COR continues work on redeveloping Mercy Hospital site

The remaining rubble that was once Mercy Hospital on Stone Street in Watertown is expected to be cleared in about six weeks. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

The remaining rubble that was once Mercy Hospital on Stone Street in Watertown is expected to be cleared in about six weeks. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — Three years ago, city officials and business leaders anguished that the mammoth complex that made up the old Mercy Hospital would sit idle for years, continue to deteriorate and the city would eventually end up getting stuck with it. [Read more…]