Watertown apartment building repaired after being trashed

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It’s the first step in finding housing for those who need it in Jefferson County. It’s not the homeless population, but people who need a little help with finding and paying for an affordable place to live.

A year ago, the apartment building at 140 High Street in Watertown was filled with food, feces and drug needles. Today, it’s a different building and it might help people who need an affordable place to live.

“I think that there’s history here. Most people know about the Dean Building, and unfortunately, the history of the Dean Building as of late hasn’t been good,” said Stephen Byers, property manager.

Watertown City Codes condemned the property in July of 2021. More than a year later, the boards will come off the windows, and the doors to the Dean Building will be opened again.

“The hope, I think, with most of the investors is to continue to bring the area up. Obviously, that’s going to take a lot of work. Honestly, it’s probably going to be a combination between the county, the city, and investors as they come in to try and clean up certain neighborhoods,” said Byers.

Jefferson County’s Department of Social Services welcomes that partnership as it has struggled to find housing for people. The Dean Building won’t serve as the answer for the county’s unhoused crisis, but it will be a building to help another population - one that needs a little help to make ends meet.

“You have to start with one building and one property at a time. You can’t just start with entire blocks,” said Byers.

Turning 140 High Street back into livable conditions wasn’t cheap. Just removing the garbage cost $15,000. The renovations include security cameras to help the building’s owners prevent another problem.

“Obviously we need to have protection from the kind of clients and the tenants that were here prior, but we’re looking forward to just providing more affordable housing in the Watertown area,” said Byers.

The monthly rent will be between $1,000 and $1,200 for the apartments. DSS says there aren’t many units left, and because the cost is what it is, tenants they help to make ends meet are very well vetted.

The first tenants expect to move in by the end of the month.