Oct 02, 2009 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Two years after Camillus Cutlery Co. officially closed its doors, the blighted industrial property looks to be on its way to a second life, this time as a mixed-use business, commercial and residential center being touted as a “wellness community” by developer Tom Blair, of Sweet Spot Development in Skaneateles.
Plans for the Camillus Mills community include one- and two-bedroom apartments, dedicated senior housing, a food court, an aquatic spa area, medical and health-oriented business and commercial spaces and some boutique retail spots — all accessible without leaving the ‘enclosed loop’ facility.
“If you live on one side of the complex and you want to access the market or hot tub and spa, you can lock your door, leave and walk through the walking bridge and common ways all the way to the other end of the complex without having to go into the weather,” Blair said.
But if you aren’t familiar with the term “wellness community,” don’t worry — that’s the point. Blair said the concept of Camillus Mills is unique.
“We do believe there’s nothing like it,” he said.
Big plans for a big project
The former cutlery site is poised to undergo major renovations, beginning with the removal of manufacturing machinery and cleaning up the industrial site to meet environmental regulations. Blair said about 80 percent of the creek-side building would need to be demolished, but that the project would adaptively reuse as much of the existing structure as possible.
Blair and the village of Camillus recently reported the Camillus Mills project received $2.5 million through Restore NY grants, and as excitement builds around the development both parties want to make sure expectations are realistic.
“Absence of physical construction does not mean absence of a project,” Village of Camillus Mayor Kurt Brunger said. “If you don’t see stuff happening outside, it’s doesn’t mean that work isn’t happening. It’s not a bad sign or a sign that the project is in jeopardy.”
Blair said it would still be about six months before Sweet Spot closed on the property, and the start date for the development will be sometime in 2010.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “It’s a big project, no doubt about it. But it’s a good project, with a lot of public support.”
Why the village of Camillus?
This summer took its toll on the business district in the village, losing the cafe, fabric store and hair salon, and the gas station on the corner of Genesee Street and Newport Road still stands empty.
But Blair maintains the village is the perfect spot for the Camillus Mills project.
“The western suburbs are growing,” Blair said. “Unlike some areasof Central New York, the population is not decreasing. There’s been an influx of new housing. And the location is wonderful.”
Blair said the site’s proximity to Route 695 and the city of Syracuse are a big draw. And the village atmosphere would provide an opportunity for non-traditional retail stores, unlike the national chain-oriented business district of the town.
“The village is going to take some time and effort on the comeback trail,” Blair said. “But a residential center with supportive and medical uses will help it to come back.”
Brunger said Blair was working very closely with the village and paying attention to the comprehensive plan to ensure the project was in line with the village’s vision.
“They really wanted to partner up with us and make it in line with what the village’s direction was from a long term visionary perspective,” Brunger said. “That’s the only way to do something that would help the community.”
To see more about the project, visit sweetspotdevelopment.com/opportunities.php.