Village officials in Camillus say what's become a Main Street eyesore was once the lifeblood of the community. The old Camillus Cutlery factory once employed 200 people and brought customers to local businesses. But the former knife maker closed for good five years ago and the building has sat vacant ever since. Sarah Blazonis has more on why some in the village are hopeful that won't be the case much longer.
CAMILLUS, N.Y. -- Kathy Kitt says the glory days of Camillus Cutlery were already past when she and her husband opened Camillus Kayak Shop next door 14 years ago. Still, she says the 2007 closing left a hole in the village.
"This huge parking lot was empty for the most part and nothing was going on in the village," said Kitt, who's also the executive secretary for the Greater Camillus Chamber of Commerce. "Even the bar had to shut down because they lost all the Camillus Cutlery workers."
The building was auctioned off to a Delaware corporation that same year, but sat vacant since. Then Sweet Spot Development bought the property last year and plans for Camillus Mills took shape.
"We think it's going to bring a lot of people to the village that ordinarily would skip right by us because of the Route 5 bypass," said Kitt.
The project would turn the site into office space for doctors' offices and wellness companies. Residential units will also be built.
The project developer says the plan is to demolish the part of the factory along Nine Mile Creek and to rehab the other building and clean up environmental issues before tenants move in.
The developer says more than $2 million in Restore NY grants has also been secured towards the $10 million Phase One.
Kathy Kitt says she thinks its exposure as a regional economic development council priority project brings Camillus Mills that much closer to reality.
"There's been cars parked out in front. There's been trucks going in there," she said. "We're just so looking forward to something being done."
And while officials and residents alike are excited about the site's future, Sweet Spot also plans to hang onto part of its past. The developer says the iconic Camillus Cutlery signs will remain part of the building's new design.
Up to $762 million in state funds could be awarded in this second round of grants, which are expected to be announced this fall.
The developer says two tenants have already committed to set up shop once the project is complete.