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Mercy project receives $2.1 million in state funding

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The Mercy redevelopment project in Watertown was a big winner in economic development funding announced Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

COR Development Co., Fayetteville, scored a $2.1 million grant that will go toward transforming the vacant complex into a mixed-use development with commercial, business and residential components.

Announced in Albany, the funding comes through the third round of Regional Economic Development Councils and is among $81.3 million in projects in the north country.

Another Watertown project also was funded. They are: $250,000 for renovation of the Lincoln Building and $150,000 for Neighbors of Watertown Inc. also received money for that project.

COR President Steven F. Aiello said Wednesday the funding will be used for environmental cleanup of the site, demolition and “some infrastructure” work. So far, the project received $2 million last year in Regional Economic Development Council money and $2 million from the Development Authority of the North Country.

“It gets us out of the gate,” Mr. Aiello said.

The environmental cleanup of the mammoth complex, at 218 Stone St., is slated to begin this month, with demolition to follow.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham thanked Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy and Gov. Cuomo for their “continued involvement” in the $65 million to $70 million project. Mr. Graham mentioned that city and business leaders were able to point out its importance when the lieutenant governor visited Watertown last year.

“It’s something that the state needs to be involved in because it’s so big and has the potential to transform downtown,” he said.

The project should take 24 to 36 months to complete. The site will be transformed into 168 residential units and 42,000 square feet of shops and offices.

In September, COR took ownership of the former Mercy Hospital complex after closing the deal to acquire the property’s deed from MGNH Inc., the defunct Lake Katrine company that had shown little interest in it for years.

Until COR stepped in, local officials feared the city was going to get stuck with the series of buildings that make up the Mercy complex and eventually have to spend millions of dollars to demolish them.

The complex became vacant last winter when Samaritan Medical Center moved the residents of Mercy Care Center of Northern New York into Samaritan Summit Village on outer Washington Street.

COR has a history of investment in the Watertown area, spending millions to develop the Towne Center shopping complex on outer Arsenal Street, which includes Target and Kohl’s department stores, as well as the 296-unit Beaver Meadow Apartments behind the shopping center on Route 3 in the town of Watertown.

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