A state grant announced Friday is expected to reinvigorate a facade restoration program run by a community improvement group that’s dedicated to bringing the Newberry building back to a position of prominence downtown.
State Sen. James L. Seward, R-Milford and other officials gathered at the historic Newberry Square building to announce the $40,000 grant for the facade restoration program run by the Cobleskill Partnership Inc., called CPI for short.
Some of the money will help pay for improvements to the Newberry Square building, a three-story structure considered an important piece of the village’s history.
Efforts to restore the former retail center, built in the late 1800s, have stalled in the past while vandalism and age took their tolls.
But the group of business owners, administrators from SUNY-Cobleskill and representatives of local government are behind saving it as a “gateway building” that could spark interest among investors, CPI president Brian Kaiser said.
“First impressions are everything,” said Kaiser, who said the Newberry Square building is one of the “last architecturally significant buildings we have down here.”
The three-story landmark at 584 Main St. is structurally sound but needs restoration, Kaiser said.
“It is saveable,” he said.
CPI worked with business and property owners up until last year to improve storefronts and facades at 12 Main Street buildings before money ran out. The infusion of cash will spark more work, Kaiser said.
Village Mayor Mark Nadeau said he still hopes to see village offices operating out of the Newberry Building, a move that would draw workers and residents downtown more frequently.
“Businesses will invest here if they see the activity,” Nadeau said. State grant funding is more scarce today than in years past, but Seward said the state’s financial crisis shouldn’t stymie projects that can help rebuild communities.
“Even in these tough economic times, it’s important that the state provide targeted assistance … I consider this an investment in the economy,” Seward said.