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Franklin Building gem store set


A jewelry store soon will be the newest tenant at the Franklin Building.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corp., said the jewelry store will occupy the storefront on the Franklin Street side that was the former home of America’s Own secondhand shop. The unidentified tenant signed a lease for the 500-square-foot, odd-shaped space, he said.

Blue Cat Cycles, which relocated from the Lincoln Building on Public Square, also has moved into another Franklin Street side storefront, Mr. Rutherford said.

“That leaves only two spaces left,” he said.

RE/MAX Empire Realty, the Northern New York Autism Foundation and Self-Direct Inc., a home health care and equipment agency that provides help with traumatic brain injuries, have become tenants in recent months.

It has been a revolving door of businesses moving in and out of the Franklin Building since a $10 million restoration was completed almost three years ago.

In the past several months, Covered in Chocolate! desserts, the Whispering Angels gift shop, a locksmith and a pilates business have closed. The space where Covered in Chocolate! was and some internal office space remain unoccupied, Mr. Rutherford said.

The WLDC, also known as the Watertown Trust, manages the commercial space of the former YWCA building. Neighbors of Watertown, which restored the building, is responsible for overseeing the 16 upper-floor apartment units. All 16 units are rented.

Earlier this year, the Watertown Trust hired Pyramid Brokerage Co. to market the building because the WLDC was struggling to find commercial tenants. The broker receives 6 percent of the amount from the lease’s first year. To help offset that, the Watertown Trust decided to increase its lease amount from about $4 per square foot to $10 per square foot.

The North Country Arts Council is housed in a Public Square storefront and a piano teacher leases a small office in some interior space. The Arts Council also leases some interior space for a planned theater in what was the pool area of the YWCA.

The Arts Council has not proceeded with plans to open an art house theater after proposing it two years ago. Arts Council President Michael C. Miller recently told Mr. Rutherford that the Arts Council still hopes to proceed with the theater, but must complete more fund-raising efforts before the council can make it a reality.

The Watertown Trust board has agreed the space should be marketed because it’s costing the WLDC money to have it sit idle. If a tenant were found, the Arts Council would be given “a first right of refusal” for that space before another party could claim it, board members said.

For the past two years, the WLDC has given the Arts Council a discount rate on its lease, charging just $1.95 a square foot.

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