Pauldine, officials cut ribbon on Cahill Landing
OSWEGO — More than a decade after the building was shuttered, Oswego’s historic Cahill Building was reopened Thursday as upscale apartments.
Dozens gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Cahill Landing site, which was one of 12 priority projects selected to receive funding from the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative in 2017. The Cahill Building restoration received roughly $700,000 of the $10 million DRI funding.
Built in 1828, the Cahill Building, which is also known as the Walton Willet Stone Store, has housed a number of businesses in its 190-year history, but has sat vacant since Coleman’s Irish Pub closed its doors in February 2008.
Several legal battles over the building took place in the intervening years as the building deteriorated, including a dispute over the ownership of the building after local developer Anthony Pauldine purchased the building in 2015.
“We’re celebrating today, but it was a long time and a long road to get here,” Mayor Billy Barlow said Thursday.
Barlow said preserving the structure, which he called the oldest commercial building in the city of Oswego, and acknowledging the “rich history” of the building is important. When Coleman’s left, the building was left to deteriorate, Barlow said, and city officials at the time didn’t take action.
“It took the public to petition to acknowledge and promote the rich history of the building and finally city government took action and started to solicit developers,” the mayor said. “The first deal they found didn’t work out and then it was a real mess. It really became quite a controversial item throughout the community and throughout the county because the building is so important.”
Pauldine stepped up in 2015 to restore the building, Barlow said, and with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s DRI funding the project came to fruition. Barlow commended Pauldine for his efforts, noting the developer took on significant risk, investing into a building that at one point could have belonged to someone else as a result of a lawsuit.
Director of Community and Economic Development Justin Rudgick said the total project cost for the Cahill Landing project is estimated at $2.1 million and noted the project would not have been possible without support from the state and the partnership between Pauldine and the city.
The project converted a dilapidated building into an upscale waterfront apartment building in the city’s downtown, along with a newly constructed commercial building, which is scheduled for completion in May 2019. There are seven apartments in the renovated building that range from $2,000 to $2,400 per month.
Barlow called the restoration “a true partnership” with the Pauldine family, Pathfinder Bank and government, noting it was “a turbulent road” but the parties worked through together.
“I just happen to be the mayor of this city at a very important time — a time when everybody is working together,” Barlow said. “We’re all working together, and when we all work together projects like this — this building and this renovation and restoration project — is what happens.”
Back in 2015, Pauldine said there were “huge, cavernous holes in the roof on the river side” and a wall about to collapse. He said it took several months to decide to take on the task, and then three years to restore and renovate the structure.
“I’m really happy to be here today,” Pauldine said. “It’s been a long three years… in my 40 years of construction this was, up to now, the most challenging and difficult building and construction of my career.”
Paulding called the opportunity to restore the building “one of a lifetime,” and was visibly emotional thanking all those who helped along the way. He said the project would have been impossible without the help of family and the many local residents, businesses and officials that played a role.
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said the reopening of the historic building is an example of what Gov. Cuomo’s DRI is about.
“The restoration of this important building for residential and commercial uses will not only bring new residents and businesses to the city, it will also strengthen the downtown’s unique character and history,” she said. “Oswego’s rich past is a catalyst for future economic vitality.”
As the Cahill Bulding ribbon-cutting ceremony went on nearby, about a dozen members of the local carpenters union demonstrated for better wages and health care along West First and Seneca streets. New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) Representative Tom Iorizzo lamented the use of taxpayer funding used for projects that don’t pay prevailing wage.
“We’re here for health care, we’re here for retirement, we’re here for workers’ safety,” Iorizzo said. “When they’re at the next site working, we’ll be at the next site. The bottom line is they’re not paying the area standards and they’re getting state funding.”
Iorizzo said Pauldine — and other developers receiving state funding — are paying wages that are not enough to support a family. Though he’s happy to see the Cahill Building restored, Iorizzo said with the use of state funding developers should by paying a living wage.
“The bottom line is you can’t make a living at 12-15 bucks an hour,” Iorizzo said. “Any other DRI projects that are not paying the rate we’ll be in front of because we believe strongly they should get the rate.”