Updated 08/25/2010 06:26 AM
Clock tower to get first business tenant
It's been a year just about to the day since the new Cortland clock tower building had its grand opening. When that happened, there were no tenants for the replica of the historic landmark that had perished in a fire. But now, as our Kat De Maria tells us, one is preparing to move in and the owner is optimistic more will follow.
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CORTLAND, N.Y.--Although everyone in Cortland knows the rich history of the clock tower, John Scanlon says he's actually found some in the time his family has owned the more than 100-year-old downtown landmark.
When those remnants were destroyed with the building in a fire four years ago, Scanlon says he knew he had to rebuild.
"We could have easily put up a single-story whatever, just a small building that would have been more desirable to a number of franchise businesses. But we wanted to see the original building in its full nature put back in place," he said.
Scanlon says a number of "small miracles" made that possible, including a tax agreement with the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency. BDC/IDA Executive Director Garry Vangorder says the building burned as the economy started to sour, and people in the community saw it as a bad omen.
"I think that's why there was such a rush to do whatever we could do to get it back up. And I think the IDA board at the time felt it was a worthwhile project and one that was worth assisting in terms of the incentives," Vangorder said.
The new clock tower building has apartments on the second and third floors, and retail space on the first. Through its groundbreaking and opening, Scanlon has worked to find a stand-out signature anchor...that still hasn't come.
"Most of our interested businesses are food-related. It seems our area is more well-suited for food service," Scanlon said.
Construction is underway for the first business to move into the clock tower building. A restaurant called Zonies is expected to open up shop later in the fall. After that, Scanlon says he plans to get the rest of the first floor ready.
"I expect we'll have two-thirds of the building filled in by spring," Scanlon said.
Scanlon is under a bit of a time constraint, as he has to report his progress to the IDA next year. He and officials both say they're not worried.
"It's taken a little bit of time. But if you look at that building, you really do see the efforts and care that was taken to replicate a really historic building in our community. I think all of those things put together lend very well to his opportunities to rent the space," Vangorder said.
And continue the history of the Cortland clock tower.