Neighbors of Watertown Unveils Empsall, Brighton Improvements

Neighbors of Watertown Unveils Empsall, Brighton Improvements

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Neighbors of Watertown unveiled its renovations Thursday in the old Empsall's and Brighton buildings on Court Street. Officials cut the ribbon during a ceremony.

"I love historic buildings. They're just so much fun to uncover and recreate, take things apart, restore them, put them back together. It's nice to see a space like this. It's just gonna be a real asset for years to come," said Gary Beasley, Neighbors of Watertown director.

The total cost for the project was about $7 million.

Renovations include new and renovated low income apartments and commercial space.

"We're standing in a two bedroom unit. This is on the second floor of what was the old Empsall Department Store," said Reg Schweitzer, Neighbors of Watertown deputy director.

And that's just one of eight new apartments built in what was once the Empsall's Department Store. Neighbors of Watertown also renovated the first and bottom floor of the building to be used for commercial space.

Next door, in what was once the Brighton Hotel, 36 apartments were also re-done.

"We gutted them right to the studs completed redeveloped them," said Schweitzer.

Neighbors of Watertown has owned the old Brighton Hotel since 1992, but just acquired the Empsall building in 2014.

While there is some new to the building, the company made sure to keep key parts of the building's history.

"The tin ceilings and the beautiful columns that were throughout, the hardwood floors that we were able to save were actually underneath another terrazzo floor that was over the top of all of it and obviously the exterior facade and store fronts of the original Empsall's," said Schweitzer.

Schweitzer says Neighbors of Watertown hopes to have tenants in all eight new apartments by the end of the year and to have the commercial space in the Empsall building rented out over the next year. 

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