Downtown Watertown 3 years after getting $10M for improvements

WWNY Downtown Watertown 3 years after getting $10M for improvements

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It has now been more than 3 years since Watertown won $10 million to improve downtown. COVID-19 caused some delays but many projects are still in the works.

We have passed the 3 year mark for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, or DRI, where Watertown was awarded $10 million from New York state.

So, how are the projects going?

Planning and Community Development Director Michael Lumbis says the city is still on track.

“Things have been progressing. Some projects behind the scenes and other projects have been under construction and are being completed so I think overall things are moving well,” he said.

One of the projects that received a large portion of the DRI money was the Watertown Masonic Temple at over $2 million. The company that owns the temple says improvements to the outside are still a work in progress.

The plan is to use the money to stabilize the exterior of the building. Some of that work will begin next week.

Right next door, the Jefferson County Historical Society is also waiting on approval for the plans on its new elevator

Board President Lisa Ruggiero says the new elevator is going to make the experience so much more enjoyable.

“I think that in itself is something that we are really excited about, that we can make the building open to more people,” she said.

Other small projects around downtown have also continued to develop like the improvements to the Musselman building on State Street, which now only waiting for a new awning, as well as the Crystal Restaurant, which broke ground on construction recently thanks to DRI grant funds.

It’s something Lumbis says has also helped to bring more business to downtown.

“We have had five new businesses that have located and opened up in downtown area in the last year or two. It’s a project that is bringing in a new business to downtown, bringing employees to downtown, brining visitors to downtown,” he said.

Lumbis says more projects are expected to break ground in the next few months.

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