Former CNY knife factory now apartments, retail; popular coffee shop coming soon
By Elizabeth Doran
December 14, 2017

CAMILLUS, NY – A 42,000-square-foot redevelopment of the former Camillus Cutlery headquarters to turn it into apartments and retail space has been completed.

Camillus Mills, developed by Thomas Blair of Skaneateles and Franklin Properties of Syracuse, features 29 apartments and 8,500-square-feet of retail space.

The converted knife factory is on 4.35 acres at 54 W. Genesee Street in the heart of the village of Camillus. The $9.7 million renovation project preserved the property’s National Register Landmark historic structure status while refurbishing the interior.

Of the 29 apartments, 21 are rented, project officials said. There are one- and two-bedroom units, which range in price from $950 to $1,500 a month.

Syracuse-based Freedom of Espresso is set to open a coffee shop in the building in early 2018. Hearth Management, an owner/operator of 15 senior living facilities in four states, also has its headquarters in the building.

The loft apartments feature 11-foot-high ceilings, oversized windows, shaker-style kitchen cabinets, granite counter tops and ceramic tile bathrooms.

The Community Preservation Corp, a not-for-profit mortgage lender that finances multi-family developments throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, helped finance the project.

Camillus Cutlery got its start in 1876, moving to Camillus in 1902 to make knives in a factory on the banks of Nine Mile Creek. The company, which employed generations of Camillus residents, at one time supplied pocket knives to the U.S. military, the Boy Scouts of America and the general public.

During peak production, the manufacturer employed 300 workers and made nearly 2 million knives a year.

By 2007, stiff competition from cheaper foreign knives forced the company into bankruptcy. A fire destroyed more than 100,000-square-feet of factory space in 2013, but the company’s headquarters survived.

The old building has special meaning to Camillus residents, said Camillus Town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan, adding Franklin Properties “had done a wonderful job restoring this village landmark.”

The site is a designated New York State Brownfield site, and the developers worked with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and state Health Department on remediation.

CPC and Franklin Properties affiliates have collaborated on the Lofts at Franklin Square and the Lofts on Willow  in Syracuse, along with the Stevedore Lofts in Oswego and the Bevier Memorial Building in Rochester.