Hotel, town homes, parkland planned for vacant Watertown land

Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 12:35 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A boutique hotel, new waterfront town homes and acres of parkland on a Watertown island - those ideas will be presented to city council Monday night.

After years of cleanup and planning, a new vision for Sewall's Island and Factory Square has been unveiled, but it's not final.

"It's exciting that we're one step closer to making some of the reuse and readaptation of these older buildings a reality, so we're looking forward to it," said City Planner Mike Lumbis.

In the 1940s, Sewall's Island was a booming industrial center, but a fire in 1999 left a gaping hole on the site and a $1.5 million cleanup of industrial waste.

Now the island and surrounding Factory Square will find new life with the help of consultant team MKSK Studios, a collective of planners, urban designers, and landscape architects.

"It really began meeting with them, visiting the site, interviewing stakeholders in the community, and from there we had a series of public meetings," said Lumbis.

More than a year of planning turned into a vision for over 175 residential units, over 45,000 square feet of commercial space, over 20 acres of park space, and a 35 key hotel. It'll need private investment.

But is it too far-fetched? Council member Ryan Henry-Wilkinson says he's cautiously optimistic.

"These are the things that are possible. Don't limit yourself, don't feel like for lack of a better phrase, don't feel like cool things can't happen in Watertown, New York. The limit is your imagination," he said.

A spokesperson for the planning firm MKSK says this is still at the planning stage and there is no clear answer as to where the funding for this vision will come from.

So there's still plenty of work to be done to make this a reality.

Plans should be finalized within the next month. City council members will get a more detailed report from the consultants in a council work session Monday night.

Plans for Sewell's Island
Plans for Sewell's Island(WWNY)

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