OSWEGO — More than a dozen downtown improvement projects primarily in the area of West First and West Second streets got the go-ahead from the Oswego Planning Board Tuesday evening.
The 14 projects came to the board looking for permission for new signage, exterior renovations and other upgrades as part of a $600,000 portion of the Port City’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award. All of the projects, which were unanimously approved, are set to finish by the end of the calendar year, said Nathan Emmons, city director of economic development.
“The intent of this portion of funding was to provide opportunities for smaller businesses and building owners for those projects that weren’t necessarily at the scale of say the Litatro Building, for example, but had an opportunity to do some improvements,” Emmons said, referring to the new five-story building on the corner of West First and Bridge streets.
Signage was approved for the Southern Fare Bar Cookhouse, a modern fusion restaurant going into the first floor of the Litatro Building at 189 West First St. The Litatro Building received roughly $700,000 of the city’s $10 million in DRI funds to build in the location formerly occupied by the Global Buffet.
Two of the proposals before the board involved Riverwalk, another DRI project, at 143 and 155-158 W 1st St. The board approved signage for a pizza parlor and a bagel baker.
The Riverwalk project’s developer is the 22 Crossroads ownership group led by entrepreneur Ed Alberts. Alberts is hoping for a fall completion for the building’s commercial space, 32 apartments and underground parking.
“We appreciate the support of the city of Oswego and the opportunity to participate in the revitalization of downtown through this initiative,” Alberts said. “I’m looking forward to the signage improvements at our Riverwalk buildings and other signage and facade improvements throughtout the downtown area.”
Warren Shaw, who recently retired after a celebrated career at Oswego High School, pitched his newest project at 75-79 E. Bridge St., which will be known as the 1850 House. Shaw said the goal is to restore the historic character of the building with exterior and interior projects.
“A good deal of the work that needs to be done is maintenance-type work, fixing a lot of wood here and there, replacing windows,” Shaw said, noting however that the façade is in “dire need of a change.”
Other projects approved included: new signage at Donna’s Distinctive Cuts at 215-217 W. 1st St., new signage for Curious Kidz at 52 W. Bridge St., new signage for Mother Earth Baby at 70 W. Bridge St., new signage and window signs at Maida’s Floral Shop at 215-217 W. 1st St., exterior renovations for the Oswego Bagelry & Sandwich Shop at 205 W. 1st St., and exterior renovations including matching awnings at Canal Commons at 191, 195 and 197 W. 1st St. In the interest of disclosure: Emmons and his family operate both Curious Kidz and Mother Earth Baby.
The board also approved exterior renovations to prolific local developer Anthony Pauline’s property at 75 E. 2nd St., which currently doesn’t have a business attached, according to city documents. The board also approved exterior renovations to Cindy’s Wagging Tails at 114-116 W. 2nd St. and the building that houses Wonzone’s Calzones at 118 W. 2nd St.
Projects requiring full common approval of the Oswego Common Council will head to council committees next week, while some projects will go directly to the state for approval before work can begin. To receive the funding, each project must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020, Emmons said.
“That’s why we were pretty specific as we talked to applicants about ‘Can you get this done?’” Emmons said. “Really for some of these projects you’re talking about October by the time we get through all of the approval processes.”