By: Timothy W. Scee II, Specialized to Newzjunky.com
| September 17, 2010
|Timothy W. Scee II / Newzjunky.com
|Gary C. Beasley, executive director of
Neighbors of Watertown, says Renovations on the Franklin Building
are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. — Strolling past the former YWCA, 50 Public Square, 15 years ago on a September day, it wasn’t unlikely to see a group of children or a veteran swimmer headed inside to the building’s swimming pool for a birthday party or a lesson.
Fast forward to 2010 and scaffolding, ladders, construction workers, as well as heavy machinery, now line the sidewalks on both the Franklin and Public Square sides of the building.
The Franklin Building, which hasn’t housed residents since being condemned by the city of Watertown nearly a decade ago, will soon return as a residential and commercial property with some original historical aspects, either salvaged or recreated by its owner, Neighbors of Watertown.
Built near the turn of the 20th century, 50 Public Square is now being retrofitted with energy efficient windows, appliances, flooring and lighting - a move that makes financial sense to Gary C. Beasley, executive director of Neighbors of Watertown.
“If you do a historic building to historic standards, you can get 20 percent of the cost of the rehabilitation in the form of a tax credit,” he said.
“We can’t use that so we bring in partners that can, they’re the investors, and we flow the tax credits to them and they buy them, so much on the dollar, and that raised us over $4 million towards the project non-debt.”
Beasley, who has been executive director for Neighbors of Watertown since 1979, said some of the construction materials are so “green,” they are edible.
“You see the yellow, sprayed-on foam up there?” Beasley asked, pointing to the insulation lining the building’s atrium roof, “That’s made out of soy beans. You can eat it.”
The old pool, still “all intact,” has been filled with sound insulation and joists and will serve as the floor of between one and three commercial occupants.
“The tiles will stay,” Beasley said. “The tile was part of the historic character of the building so it will be factored into the design.”
A new heating and air conditioning system has been installed for both the commercial storefronts and each of the 16 studio, one and two-bedroom residential apartments.
Neighbors of Watertown currently owns the Buck, Brighton and Burdick Buildings, Lilian Towers, Olympic Apartments and Emerson Place, renting to income-eligible tenants.
Renovations on the Franklin Building are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Official: Neighbors of Watertown
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