MASSENA – Members of the local planning committee of the Massena Town Center Revitalization Initiative asked questions this week about plans for the former Massena School of Business, which is one of the proposed projects that will be submitted with state approval.
“This project is the transformation of the former trade school property into a transitional courtyard space with a raised mezzanine, as it connects this key downtown corridor to the proposed river walk project. It would also connect people traveling along the parkway with some of the investment that’s happening in your town center and some of these new development projects,” said Sarah Starke Hess of MJ Engineering and Land Surveying PC, the team at Massena’s DRI program consultants.
She said the current concept is to preserve the facade at the front of the building and create an open courtyard space with benches, trees and other amenities as a gateway to a river promenade which is also part of the proposed projects. .
The project sponsor is the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. The total cost of the project is $1.9 million, and since it is classified as a “public improvement”, the project proponents submitted a DRI request for $1.9 million.
Mayor Gregory M. Paquin, co-chair of the local planning committee, said he wanted to get a better idea of what the preserved facade would look like.
“I’m struggling to have a vision in my head of what the front will look like,” he said.
Jaclyn S. Hakes, also of MJ Engineering and Land Surveying PC, said the goal was to preserve the facade “perhaps less some of the plywood in the windows.”
“It’s the idea that the historic facade is meant to be preserved and maintained so that it can retain that full block feel like you’re on Main Street, but open up to that courtyard,” said Mrs Hackes. “The project includes the demolition of everything but the facade so that the facade can be stabilized and then the courtyard will be created following this, allowing this connection from the street to the river in the public car park.
The frontage would be a “transition space” from Main Street to the Riverwalk, said Patrick J. Kelly, co-chair of the local planning committee and CEO of the county’s IDA.
“So the intention is to preserve the facade, whether it’s a larger arch with some sort of larger walk-through area or whether it’s exactly what’s there, just with a door, that remains to be seen,” Mr Kelly said.
Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire, a member of the local planning committee, asked how much of the budget was related to preserving the facade. Ms. Hess said demolishing the rear part of the building and stabilizing the facade cost about $1.2 million.
Richard L. Daddario, a member of the local planning committee, wondered if some type of food service would be available in the yard.
“The intent is to provide utility to adjacent buildings,” Kelly said. “So if there’s a food service or something in one of the buildings on either side, the courtyard can serve that purpose without having a hot dog cart or some other type of food option. I think it will largely depend on what surrounds it.
Mr Paquin said there was a possibility that space could be opened up from the former JJ Newberry Building, another project under consideration, and that this could open up the possibility of storefronts in the courtyard , “one that could very well be an option food.”
The local planning committee is scheduled to meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, when members will be asked to approve the final list of proposed projects that will be sent to the state for approval.
The meeting will be held at the town hall of Masséna and is open to the public. It will also include an opportunity for public comments at the end of the meeting. The meeting will be available on Zoom. Registration is required to participate in the virtual option. Visit the Massena DRI website at www.MassenaDRI.com for more information and to register for the Zoom meeting.