Watertown man, partners want to redevelop empty prisons, psych center buildings

Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 4:14 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A Watertown man says he and several friends with deep pockets have a plan to redevelop the dormant prisons in Watertown and Ogdensburg and some empty buildings at Ogdensburg’s St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.

Rick St. Jean says he is a recent transplant from New Hampshire, where he was a residential, industrial, and commercial developer. He moved to Watertown four years year ago to be closer to family.

St. Jean says he’s been reading about the recently emptied prisons in Watertown and Ogdensburg and the empty psych center buildings.

He says he and four well-to-do friends have a plan to redevelop the prisons and some psych center buildings into senior housing, possibly some affordable housing, and possibly some light industry.

“This is very preliminary, I want to stress that, and it gets a little complicated. But we’re not looking for any tax breaks or anything like that, just going to come in, put it back on the tax rolls, and develop it and try to help out the tax base and make some money on the side, too,” he said.

St. Jean ballparks the cost at $300 to $400 million, all of which he says would come out of his and his partners’ pockets.

He says he and his partners face an end-of-October deadline to submit a plan to the state.

St. Jean plans to pitch his plan to the Ogdensburg City Council Monday night.

Interim City Manager Andrea Smith said she can’t comment on the plan but looks forward to hearing from him.