The acquisition of the former Mercy Hospital site by a Syracuse developer is tremendous news that promises to make redevelopment of the property a transformational event for downtown Watertown.
COR Development Co., of Fayetteville, has gained control of the Mercy Care Center of Northern New York with plans to demolish the sprawling complex occupying most of a city block between Stone and Arsenal streets.
The reassuring progress comes less than a week after the last resident of Mercy was relocated to a modern, state-of-the-art facility at Samaritan Summit Village on outer Washington Street and once again revived the years-long hand-wringing over what would become of the aging buildings.
Steven F. Aiello, COR president, has a credible solution that envisions turning a prime piece of property into a mixed-used site with residential housing, retail and commercial space in the heart of the city.
Construction could begin as early as next year with some buildings ready by late 2014 for occupancy. The housing will bring more residents to the downtown with convenient access to shops, health care, government offices and professional services.
Mr. Aiello is a reputable developer with a proven track record. In place of idle speculation, Mr. Aiellos plan replicates what he has done in Syracuse and what he has accomplished in Jefferson County with development of the Towne Center Plaza and nearly 300 units of housing off outer Arsenal Street in the town of Watertown.
As a confident Jefferson County Legislature Chairwoman Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick noted, COR Development Company gets things done.
Mr. Aiellos control of the property enables him to move ahead quickly with his vision without the time-consuming and costly feasibility studies that characterize government oversight.
CORs control is a great relief to the city and the host of development officials who have been dithering for years over Mercys future. City leaders no longer have to agonize over another downtown building deteriorating from lack of maintenance or the financial burden of tearing down a decrepit eyesore.
Mr. Aiellos commitment to the city combined with ongoing discussions of renovating the empty Woolworth Building on Public Square brighten the outlook and instill greater optimism in the future of a revitalized business core for the city.