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Demolition at former Mercy Hospital complex to start May 1

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WATERTOWN — Buildings at the former Mercy Hospital complex will start coming down May 1, Steven F. Aiello, president of COR Development Co., said during a meeting with Times editors Wednesday.

Asbestos was recently cleared from three buildings at the 218 Stone St. complex, allowing demolition to start in May, Mr. Aiello said.

To finish one building at a time, demolition will start at the west side of the complex with the former Madonna Home and continue eastward. It is projected to take six to eight months to demolish five buildings at the site, where the Fayetteville developer plans to construct a mixed-use complex with 40,000 square feet of retail and office space and anywhere from 160 to 200 upper-floor apartments.

“We’re trying to get equipment up next week, and we’ll start tearing down buildings from the Madonna side,” Mr. Aiello said.

A long-neck excavator and a contingent of loaders, dump trucks and other heavy equipment will be on site to level the structures. When demolition is in full swing, about 30 construction workers will be employed.

While demolition is ongoing, COR plans to start the site plan review process to have blueprints approved for its four-building complex this spring by the city Planning Board, Mr. Aiello said.

“About the time we start demolition, I’d like to start discussing layouts for the site with the city,” he said. “Getting approvals this year would allow us to start construction in the spring of 2015,” he said, adding that it will take about a year to build the massive complex, which will cost some $65 million to $70 million.

Retail space on the ground floor of the buildings likely will include a mix of businesses that will serve residents in the community, Mr. Aiello said. The plan calls for medical and office spaces along with small restaurants and retailers.

About 20 percent of the total housing units — possibly one building — likely will be affordable units designated for low-income tenants who qualify, while the remainder will be market-rate units, he said.

Depending on demand for housing at the new complex, COR may expand the scope of its project to build additional mixed-use structures off Stone Street, Mr. Aiello said.

“If the housing goes well, you could see us plan in the future three-story buildings, with the first story retail and a couple of floors of apartments — possibly condos,” he said. “That could create a better synergy on Stone Street with commercial use.”

Mr. Aiello said COR eventually may purchase the former Tallmadge Tire building that borders the former Mercy site at 217 Arsenal St., which is now owned by Morgan Management, Pittsford. Morgan, which bought the two-story brick building from G&K Realty last July, finished asbestos work during the winter. Pyramid Brokerage Co. is now advertising the 11,800-square-foot structure for sale on its website. Before it became a tire store, the building was a city fire station.

“If that becomes available, I would certainly be interested in it,” Mr. Aiello said Wednesday. “We can’t let one property predetermine the destination of this project — it’s too big. And at the very least, it will create value for the fire station, which will make it worth it for whomever the owner becomes to put money into it and renovate it.”

COR project consultant William B. Eimicke said that during the construction phase, the project is expected to create 670 to 700 temporary jobs. Over the long term, about 400 permanent jobs are projected from economic development generated at the site. The overall economic impact during construction of the complex is projected at about $80 million. The project’s long-term economic impact after construction is expected to be $30 million to $40 million.

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