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Watertown Trust looks to market Franklin Building space

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The Watertown Local Development Corp. hopes to get some professional help in marketing the Franklin Building.

Donald W. Rutherford, chief executive officer for the WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, wants to hire a real estate broker to market the remaining space in the restored Public Square landmark.

With the recent closing of two businesses, Mr. Rutherford said, a broker might have better success filling the vacant space. Three storefronts that face Franklin Street and 1,500 square feet of interior space are unoccupied.

He has talked to representatives of the local office of the Pyramid Brokerage Company and the Syracuse office of CBRE about working on filling the space but has taken no action on which one to hire. The broker would receive 6 percent of the amount from the lease’s first year.

“I just want to get some clarification and more detailed information from them,” Mr. Rutherford said, adding he would like to make a decision about it within the next couple of weeks.

The brokers have told Mr. Rutherford that the rents are low for the building space and the trust should think about charging more. With the average amount for Watertown about $13 per square foot of space, the trust charges from $8 to $9.50 per square foot. The real estate agents said the trust should consider about $10.

In recent months, Covered in Chocolate! and a locksmith shop closed, while the owner of a pilates studio recently told him that she planned to shut the doors in March. Last week, two potential tenants looked at space there, Mr. Rutherford said.

The trust got the idea of using a broker from Brian H. Murray, who runs a local real estate management company that owns several properties in and around downtown.

The trust is responsible for rental of the Franklin Building’s 16 residential units on upper floors and 10 commercial units at street level. In 2011, Neighbors of Watertown restored the former YWCA building for about $10 million.

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