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Developers close Woolworth deal; construction started Wednesday

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After more than five years, construction began Wednesday on the $15 million project to turn the Woolworth Building into 50 upper-floor apartments and commercial space on the ground floor.

Erich H. Seber, one of its two developers, said in an email Wednesday morning that the closing to purchase the Public Square landmark was completed about 8 p.m. Tuesday in Albany.

He and Long Island developer David Gallo acquired the structure for $450,000 from Mr. Gallo’s former partner, Michael A. Treanor, who bowed out of the project after he could not obtain all of the needed funding to complete it.

“David and I have been truly blessed to be a part of the revival of this great building,” he wrote. “We celebrate with the residents of Watertown for what has taken place and the good things ahead of us all.”

The necessary paperwork was expected to be recorded Wednesday, and construction can begin immediately after a “Notice to Proceed” is issued to the contracting team of Purcell-LeCesse Joint Venture, Mr. Seber wrote.

The six-story building was the F.W. Woolworth department store.

“We’re very happy to get to this point,” said Kenneth A. Mix, the city’s planning and community development coordinator. “The most difficult point is now behind us.”

The developers expect construction to be finished by the end of next year.

Mr. Seber thanked city officials and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency for supporting the project along the way.

In 2009, the city applied for a $2.5 million Restore NY grant to help finance the project.

The city also sold some green space across the street on Public Square, between Cam’s Pizzeria and the Woodruff Professional Building, that will be converted into a 28-space lot for tenant parking.

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