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JCC’s plans generate excitement in downtown Watertown

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Jefferson Community College’s addition to downtown Watertown is creating excitement. JCC announced Wednesday that it plans to collaborate with Neighbors of Watertown to restore buildings at 124 - 136 Franklin Street and develop a facility dedicated to entrepreneurship education and training.

“Just the perception of more people down here adds to the vibrancy of your downtown,” said Don Rutherford, CEO, Watertown Local Development Corporation.

Rutherford works in the heart of downtown and he’s glad JCC is renewing its plan to bring its project to the area.

Downtown Business Association President Joseph Wessner shares that feeling.

“It gives our merchants yet another group of people to market to that don’t have to walk far to get to their place,” he said.

Town Barber is one such shop - just down the block from the space JCC plans to take over. Owner Devon Burton says it’s a chance to get more people in his chairs.

“It’s good for business. More traffic, the more they get to see us, we get more work,” he said.

New faces downtown is a plus, but Wessner is also happy a historic building will stay standing.

“We have a lot of character in downtown and every building right now is important,” he said.

Empire Square owner Vonnette Montieth is also excited about the potential for more business, but wishes the building once known as the strand could have been used for it’s original purpose.

“I would love to have more foot traffic. I love college kids, but I would love The Strand to be a music venue, an art venue, a theater venue,” she said.

Rutherford says to build up Watertown’s downtown area, it’s one piece at a time. Wessner agrees and says any step that brings new people to the area during the day, like JCC’s project is expected to do, is amazing for downtown.

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