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Watertown's downtown revitalization projects chosen

Payne Horning
WRVO News (file photo)
The Public Square Fountain in downtown Watertown will be repainted and a wrought-iron fence will be installed around it as part of the city's $10 million downtown makeover.

Watertown's $10 million downtown revitalization can move forward now that state officials have decided how the city can spend the prize money

Much of the funding is designated for improvements to historic buildings in Watertown, like a multi-million dollar renovation of the nearly century old Masonic Temple into a performing arts center and public event space. The Paddock Arcade, one of the country's oldest covered shopping malls, will get a new elevator, heated flooring and enhancements to its glass ceiling. The upper stories will also be remodeled to make room for new commercial spaces and apartments. And the histroic Lincoln Building will get a makeover for a co-working office where entrepreneurs can rent space and collaborate. 

But some of the $10 million will go toward new space in Watertown's Public Square, including a tech space at Jefferson Community College where students and entrepreneurs can work together. 

Kylie Peck, president of the Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of Watertown's DRI local planning committee, said she's optimistic about what these projects could do for the city.

"I think that we will really be feeling new life in downtown, it will be exciting," Peck said. "When you walk around a downtown where there's transformation taking place, it breathes new life into the city. They want to come out and about and explore, maybe try new things, experience new things and really get involved with their city."

The atmosphere of downtown will also benefit from the funding, Peck said. Funding has been appropriated for renovating storefront facades, adding public art throughout downtown and painting the Public Square Fountain and installing a replica wrought-iron fence that once surrounded it. 

Some projects the local planning committee proposed will not be funded with this award, such as a new pool and wellness center at the YMCA. But Peck said they can always apply for funding in the state's annual economic development competition.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.