He restored the Buckley Building in Carthage and turned an abandoned Adams school and a Watertown warehouse into apartment buildings.
But then Michael A. Treanor walked away from his proposed Woolworth project, and the Long Island developer has been in and out of court trying to complete the Roxy Hotel in Cape Vincent.
These days, north country officials who have worked with him in the past dont know whats next for the developer. And repeated phone calls from the Times have gone unreturned.
Two years after the Cape Vincent project began, Mr. Treanor has assured village officials the remaining work will resume soon. John B. DeFrancesco, former president of the Cape Vincent Local Development Corp., said he talked with Mr. Treanor as recently as last week about his plans to finally finish the $2 million project, which is to include a 15-room quaint hotel, a pub/restaurant and five townhouses constructed behind the Broadway landmark.
I dont have any worries about the project, Mr. DeFrancesco said, adding he believes it is finally back on track after stalling about a year ago.
The hotel and the restaurant, Monaghans Irish Pub, opened during the 2011 summer tourism season, but four of the five townhouses have yet to be finished. Even though they are 90 percent done, work stopped last winter when a series of mechanical liens were filed against Mr. Treanor and his general contractor, Akeys Construction Enterprise Inc., Lacona.
Since then, it has been a waiting game and a case of Catch-22.
The Empire State Development Corp. would not release about $500,000 in Restore NY funding the village obtained to help finance the project in 2009. And the work would not resume until the liens were cleared.
We had to get the liens lifted, said Mr. DeFranceso, who put together the application for the $1.532 million Restore NY money.
Last month, state Supreme Court Justice Hugh A. Gilbert ordered one of Mr. Treanors companies, Cape Vincent Roxy LLC, released from about $315,000 in mechanics liens attached to the property.
Holding liens against the Roxy were: O.D. Greene Lumber, Adams, $237,020; Richard Spence Drywall, town of Mexico, $14,460; Sanford & Burtis Fire Equipment, Fulton, $4,970; Thousand Islands Heating & Air Conditioning, LaFargeville, $8,500; City Electric Co. Inc., Watertown, $9,117, and SRI Fire Sprinkler LLC, Albany, $49,600.
In November, Mr. Treanor deposited with the court $94,680, which represented the difference between the amount he had agreed to pay Akeys Construction Enterprise Inc. to act as general contractor on the project and the amount still owed on the $1,025,540 contract.
The $94,680 will remain in trust with the court and probably will be disbursed to creditors at the courts discretion, but only by further court order.
With the liens issue solved, Mr. DeFrancesco said he hopes the townhouses will be completed and ready for occupancy in about three months. Over that time, he and village officials will continue to work with Empire State Development representatives on getting them to agree to reimburse the village with the state funding, possibly this spring.
But the summer tourism season is long over, and the hotel and restaurant are dark these days. A sign on the front door shows they closed Oct. 1 and will reopen next year.
Amid complaints about how infrequently they were open this year, Mr. DeFrancesco has no complaints about how the developer has operated the business. Restaurants such as Monaghans Irish Pub typically close after the tourists go home, he said.
Its expected, he said.
changing course in city
But Mr. Treanors bowing out of the project to turn the Woolworth building in Watertown into rental housing was not expected. Developer David Gallo, a partner who joined him just last summer, and Erich H. Seber, who owns a Maryland construction consulting company, have taken over redeveloping the Public Square landmark. They are in the process of buying the six-story building from him for $400,000, and they plan to convert it into 50 upper-floor, affordable housing apartments and 11,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor.
Recently, Mr. Gallo, who is responsible for arranging the financing for the $10.4 million project, said the men decided he would be in a better position to move the project forward.
When he was asked about his former partners current ventures, Mr. Gallo had little to say.
We dont have any relationship with him, Mr. Gallo said.
Since taking over the project, the new partners have put together a team consisting of the Purcell Construction Corp., Watertown, and Lecesse Construction, Rochester, as contractors and the Syracuse-based Crawford & Stearns Architects and Preservation Planners to help with the projects design. They intend to use a combination of a $2.5 million Restore NY grant, tax credits and other financing.
Mr. Treanor acted as the construction manager and hired subcontractors to complete the work, said Kenneth A. Mix, the citys planning and community development coordinator. He worked with Mr. Treanor on the 30-unit, $2.9 million Riverview Plaza Apartments project on Newell Street two years ago.
The methods are different this time, Mr. Mix said, adding Mr. Treanor was very hands-on and made all the decisions about the Riverview Plaza project.
Originally, Mr. Treanor proposed a boutique hotel and street-level restaurants for the Woolworth building. But he had to switch gears after the economy took a downturn and he could not obtain enough financing.
Always skeptical about the hotel concept, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham now says he never thought it would work. A downtown hotel would have difficulty succeeding, he said.
SKEPTICISM IN ADAMS
Mr. Treanors other interests in Northern New York include the 24-unit Pinehurst Apartments, which he restored in 2006 from the old Adams High School and Scholtz Elementary School, and the Buckley Building in Carthage, which was converted to 13 apartments and commercial space in a nearly $2 million revitalization project three years later.
Village of Adams Mayor Patricia C. Sweetland was not surprised to hear Mr. Treanor failed to follow through on the Woolworth building. In Adams, he promised to include landscaping for a buffer zone, fix the old school playground and repair a fence when he proposed Pinehurst Apartments, but none of that work has been done, she said.
Since then, it has gone through a series of building managers and the property has been cited for building code violations, she said. Tenants also have caused problems, she said, noting three people were arrested on drug charges after police found in one apartment 8 ounces of cocaine with a street value of $130,000.
In recent months, however, the situation has improved at the apartment building, she added.
But Mr. Treanor can be difficult to deal with, she said, adding Watertown officials should be relieved he is no longer involved in the Woolworth project.
Thats probably a good thing, she said, declining to elaborate.
Times staff writer Brian Kelly contributed to this report.