The City of Watertown says it will have to condemn a downtown landmark if it's not repaired before winter. The owner says he's working to do just that, hoping to turn the former Masonic Temple into an education and arts center. It will be a lot of work, no question, but as our Brian Dwyer reports, that work may not be as hard as it may look from the outside.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- He has about six weeks. Garrett McCarthy must not only have a plan to repair the outside of the former Masonic Temple, but he must actually fix the issue with falling stones or else the building will be condemned. So he brought in some experts.
"A lot of what I'm seeing on the surface can be temporarily covered over," Klepper, Hahn and Hyatt President Richard Applebaum said. "Dangerous areas can easily be removed."
Applebaum is the president of Syracuse-based engineering firm Klepper, Hahn and Hyatt. During his initial survey Monday, he said McCarthy needs to focus on those falling stones and water damage that's accumulated over the years of vacancy.
"Our climate of freezing in winter, the water freezes and causes a lot of damage," he said. "If that can be controlled and stopped, I think you stand a good chance of restoring the building."
McCarthy says he's actually okay with the building being condemned if need be, he only wants the city to allow him to bring in potential investors.
"It's similar to the Franklin Building, if that's what indeed occurs down the road. It has that designation until the building is fixed," McCarthy said. "Then look at the success story. It's a stunning building."
As for condemning the building, Applebaum says after his initial walk through, he sees absolutely no reason to do that.
"I see nothing structural that says there's anything dangerous about the building," he said. "It's just little pieces of it here and there."
"I'm glad to hear their confidence in the structure," McCarthy said.
As for costs, Applebaum says it's too early, but the initial phase to please city codes, could be anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands.
McCarthy says he's on the phone every day with organizations, elected officials and even corporations and he's generating a good amount of interest in the building.