Home leasing has officially purchased an historic building in Seneca Falls.
The Huntington Building, which went up in 1870 to house the National Yeast Company, has fallen into disrepair in recent years since the auto dealership that sat there for nearly three decades closed.
There was a brief debate in Seneca Falls about whether the property should be sold to Circle K or Home Leasing. While the proposal to build a gas station on the corner was quickly shot down by local stakeholders, a bid to restore the historic property was successful.
Home Leasing CEO Bret Garwood recently sat down with FingerLakes1.com to talk about the project. While the sale closed at $525,000 – the total investment in the property will far exceed that figure.
Among the most-noteworthy changes coming to the property is construction of a fourth floor, to restore the property to its original state. In total, Garwood says it’s going to take around 18 months to complete the construction. “We should start advertising for rentable units by early-2025,” Garwood said.
There’s a lot of work to go into the property before units are rented. There will be 53 units, and Garwood said the appeal of this kind of property is two-fold.
“We really love to do projects that are accomplishing something more than just creating affordable housing, which is a good thing. But we want to have an impact on the community. So there are a couple things that appeal to us about a project like this one,” he continued. “First, we’re solving this problem of an historic building that’s in disrepair and restoring it to its former historic glory. That will be a really beautiful building. But we’re also providing something that I think the community needs. Another 53 residents right along the canal on a major street in Seneca Falls.”
The development will also provide supportive housing opportunities for veterans. Garwood said that was one piece of feedback from the community that Home Leasing heard frequently. Twenty-seven of the units will be provided to vets who get services from organizations aimed at improving their lives after the military.
As for delays, Garwood said the pandemic and inflation had the biggest impact.
“If the pandemic hadn’t happened this would have been a fairly efficient and straightforward process in the context of our work,” Garwood said. “But we got the project funded, it was very well received from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. And it’s really important to note that we got a lot of support from the downtown revitalization initiative. That was a big part of this because Seneca Falls was taking efforts to revitalize itself. Then the pandemic hit and a few things happened. Financial markets changed a lot.”
Garwood said a serious effort was underatken to redefine investors and determine the true cost of the project. He said that likely increased by over 25% since the project was proposed.
Now though, progress will be visible at the property.
“You’re gonna see that corner property get buttoned up quite a bit,” Garwood continued. “So as we do the asbestos abatement and demolition, you’re going to see the windows covered and area fenced off. It’s going to be a lot of activity. But most of it will be occurring inside, so we have some time before the external transformation starts to happen. I think the part I’m most excited about is when we start stabilizing the building, and we start constructing that missing fourth floor. It’s going to be imrpessive.”
When all is said and done – it should look as it did around 140 years ago.