Camillus Mills Project Preserves the National Landmark Structure, Creates 29 New Apartments and New Commercial Space
State’s Investment Complements “Central NY Rising” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Camillus, NY, December 8, 2017 – Developers Franklin Properties and Tom Blair along with Sutton Real Estate Company, The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), Camillus Village Mayor Patricia J. Butler-Rhoades, New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Empire State Development (ESD), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Office of the New York State Comptroller, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan and other partners announced today the completion of a $9.7 million project rehabilitating the former Camillus Cutlery headquarters into Camillus Mills, a 42,000-square-foot, mixed-use development with 29 new rental apartments and 8,500-square-feet of new commercial retail space. The rehabilitation of this Camillus Cutlery landmark will serve as a catalyst for the ongoing revitalization of the Village of Camillus and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Camillus Cutlery Company was one of the oldest knife manufacturers in the country, responsible for supplying pocket knives to the United States Armed Forces, the Boy Scouts of America, sportsmen and for general civilian use. During its peak production, Camillus Cutlery employed 300 workers and manufactured nearly 2 million knives. The factory ceased operations in 2007, and the property was vacant until a large fire destroyed over 100,000-square-feet of factory space in 2013. The company’s former headquarters building survived the fire. The Camillus Cutlery legacy remains culturally important to village residents and many recovered artifacts have been incorporated into the renovated building, paying homage to the company’s significance in the community.
“When Camillus Cutlery closed its doors in 2007, it left a huge void,” said Doug Sutherland of Franklin Properties. “Some places might have tossed in the towel, but not Camillus. It has been gratifying to work with public officials who are real problem solvers.”
“No question, this was a tough project and everyone involved should feel great about the result. We are so pleased to see the restoration complete and new employees and residents moving in,” said Mayor Patricia J. Butler-Rhoades. “It’s like seeing the return of an old friend.”
Nicholas V. Petragnani, Jr., Senior Vice President and Central New York Regional Director, CPC said, “This investment in the rehabilitation of Camillus Mills has helped to transform a historic building into a resource of housing and economic opportunity that will serve the community for generations. Without the addition of Historic Tax Credits, many projects that we help finance, like Camillus Mills would not be possible. Their absence would create huge gaps in the community development plans of cities throughout upstate New York. It’s my sincere hope that as debate over tax reform moves forward, that these critical tax credits will remain a resource we can depend on. My thanks to our partners at Franklin Properties, Mayor Butler-Rhoades, Comptroller DiNapoli’s office, ESD, SHPO, DEC, and everybody who helped make Camillus Mills a reality.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Restoring and adapting the historic Camillus Cutlery building as a vibrant mixed-use development is the type of transformation that's crucial to revitalizing our communities and creating opportunities for the future."
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “We are happy to be part of this collaboration with our numerous state and local partners who made this critical investment possible. Camillus Mills demonstrates the Governor’s dedication to increasing housing opportunities and economic development in Central New York.”
"We are pleased to be an investment partner with the Community Preservation Corporation on this shared mission to help revitalize our communities and increase the availability of high-quality housing for hardworking New Yorkers," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the New York state pension fund. "I welcome this opportunity for a sound investment for our retirement fund that has also helped rehabilitate the historic Camillus Cutlery headquarters."
“The conversion of the former Camillus Cutlery site proves the power of New York’s Brownfields program to transform the past and shape the future,” said Kenneth Lynch, Executive Deputy Commissioner, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “DEC was proud to partner on this incredible project which will ensure the Camillus Cutlery legacy will continue to strengthen this community for generations to come.”
Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan noted, “The old Camillus Cutlery building has special meaning for all Camillus residents. Franklin Properties has an impressive resume of completed work. They have done a wonderful job restoring this village landmark.”
Located at 54 Genesee Street, the 42,000-square-foot property lies on 4.35-acres of land. The Camillus Mills exterior renovations preserved the property’s National Register Landmark structure status while the interior was converted into renovated residential and commercial spaces. MCK Building Associates, a Syracuse-based company with decades of experience in the region, served as the project’s General Contractor.
As a nonprofit housing finance company with a long history of serving communities throughout New York State, CPC works with their partners like Franklin Properties who understand the importance of investing in projects that help breathe new life into neighborhoods and connect them with their historic past. Historic buildings, including former factories which were once hubs of activity throughout New York can be put back into use as new housing and retail space – again serving as anchors of activity and economic opportunity for neighborhoods large and small.
The renovation of the structure features 8,500-square-feet of fully-leased ground floor, street-front commercial space as well as on-site parking. The commercial tenants include the headquarters of Hearth Management, an owner/operator of 15 senior living facilities in four states, and a branch of the Syracuse-based Freedom of Espresso coffee house, which will open in early 2018.
The 29 apartments provide 11 ft. high ceilings, oversized windows for natural light, shaker-style kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, contemporary stainless steel appliances, ceramic tile bathrooms, and traditional hardwood flooring and/or contemporary stained concrete flooring. Each apartment comes equipped with high-efficiency heating and central air conditioning. Dan Tartaglia of Sutton Real Estate said, “Interest in the loft apartments has been very strong. There is nothing quite like these loft apartments in the western suburbs. As of today, 21 of the 29 apartments are already leased. “
The former Camillus Cutlery complex is a designated NYS Brownfield site. The development team worked closely and successfully with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYS Department of Health to fully remediate the residue of one hundred years of industrial activity.
To help finance the project, CPC provided a $7.84 million construction loan as well as a SONYMA-insured $3.96 million permanent loan through its funding agreement with the New York State Common Retirement Fund. ESD awarded the project a $2.34 million Restore NY grant and a $500,000 CNY Regional Economic Development Council grant. Additionally, HCR awarded a $31,000 grant to Onondaga County from the New York Main Street program to replace the structure’s roof. The project received its Part I and Part II approvals from SHPO and National Park Service to qualify for State and Federal historic tax credits. The Town of Camillus additionally provided a PILOT agreement to help facilitate the project.
CPC and Franklin Properties affiliates have previously collaborated on four successful mixed-use historic rehabilitation projects including the Lofts at Franklin Square, and the Lofts on Willow, both in Syracuse; the Stevedore Lofts in Oswego; and, the Bevier Memorial Building in downtown Rochester.
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About The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)
Established in 1974, CPC is a nonprofit affordable housing and community revitalization finance company that believes housing is central to transforming underserved neighborhoods into thriving and vibrant communities. We provide innovative capital solutions, fresh thinking and a collaborative approach to the often complex challenges that owners and developers of multifamily housing face. To date, CPC has leveraged approximately $9.7 billion in private and public investment to finance more than 170,660 units of affordable housing. Our work with our partners has helped revitalize countless neighborhoods throughout New York, and provided quality housing for families, senior citizens, and individuals with disabilities. Follow us at communityp.com, and on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Accelerating Central NY Rising
Today's announcement complements “Central NY Rising,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $4.7 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn as a destination to grow and invest in.
Now, the region is accelerating Central NY Rising with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs. More information is available here.