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Polishing the jewel

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The revitalization of the ground level floor of City Center Plaza in Watertown proves the value of having owners of city property living and working just down the street.

After Brian H. Murray, owner of the former Agricultural Insurance building on Washington Street, purchased the 41,000-square-foot ground floor of the building whose upstairs houses Stream, he set to work to bring new life to what in 1969 was supposed to be the crown jewel of urban renewal on Public Square.

Between now and Oct. 1, seven new businesses will join the existing tenants to spark new life and vitality in the core of the city.

Mr. Murray points out that the new tenants “bring exciting activities to downtown and add things to do for people who say there’s nothing to do downtown. I’m really optimistic how it’s going to go.”

The space required new flooring, ceilings, lighting and windows in the once windowless concrete fortress — in fact, its own urban renewal.

The renovations proceed as the new businesses execute their plans to draw a young, energetic clientele downtown and offer appealing opportunities for the 700 Stream employees just upstairs.

Mr. Murray’s work leads to even more optimism for the future of Public Square.

The city’s core finally has an excellent opportunity to succeed because of the investment in new apartments in the original Woolworth Building on the Square, Mr. Murray’s ambitious project at the Lincoln Building and new housing and commercial space to replace the dilapidated Mercy Hospital.

The city’s major improvements to the infrastructure downtown paved the way for investments by landlords with major stakes in the future of Watertown.

Mr. Murray’s record as a property manager is solid and proves just how important local investment is for a small rural community.

The Mercy project developer, Steven F. Aiello, built the Towne Center and Beaver Meadows apartments on outer Arsenal Street.

And local contractor Mark Purcell is participating in the Woolworth apartment and Lincoln Building projects.

Downtown finally appears to be in the hands of dedicated and qualified developers.

Just maybe now finally Watertown will see some benefits from the more than decadelong urban renewal blitz, which beginning in 1959 destroyed much of downtown.

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