Press-Republican

July 14, 2012

Old Stone Mill renovation plans ready to go

By DAN HEATH, Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — KEESEVILLE — Renovation of the Old Stone Mill building is at the center of revitalization efforts in downtown Keeseville.

Keeseville-based Adirondack Architectural Heritage is leading the renovation project and has $630,000 in grant funds to put toward its cost. Architectural Heritage Board of Directors member Andy Prescott, who chairs its Old Stone Mill committee, said the 15,000 square feet of space is wide open inside, so it can be converted to any number of configurations.

It would make an ideal location for smaller professional offices, a larger corporate office or even mixed use with a restaurant or brew pub, he said.

”The vistas of the river are spectacular,” Prescott said. “We see this as being the anchor for the future of Keeseville.” 

The grant allows creation of prime commercial or office space at market costs, he said. Prescott said they continue to look for someone to invest in the restoration process and eventually acquire the property.

”If we can just find that angel that wants to take that space,” Prescott said. “Our plans are in place. We’re ready to start construction tomorrow.”

He said its been a collaborative effort.

”The mayor (Dale Holderman) and Village Trustees deserve a lot of credit,” Prescott said. “(Local businessman) George Moore has also been very helpful to us.”

HORSE NAIL COMPANY

The restoration would include a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, as well as electrical and communication infrastructure.

The new doors, windows and roof would be designed to provide a historic decor. The renovated structure would be part of the Ausable Horse Nail Complex, in combination with the Architectural Heritage office building on Main Street.

Prescott said the complex was originally the centerpiece of Keeseville’s economic life from 1850 through the 1960s. Originally home to the Ausable Horse Nail Company and the Eagle Horse Nail Company, it was where local blacksmith Danile Dodge invented a horse-nail machine that revolutionized the manufacture of the nails used for horseshoes.

The machines manufactured there were capable of producing 200 pounds of nails in the time it took to make 10 pounds by hand. The machines were sold worldwide until the early 1900s, when the property was purchased by R. Prescott and Sons, a wood-products manufacturer operated by relatives of Andy Prescott.

That company closed in 1960. The property was acquired for revitalization purposes by Architectural Heritage in 2008.

POTENTIAL CENTERPIECE

The historic structure makes 20 percent federal- and 20 percent state-tax credits available, based on construction costs. That helps make the project financially viable, Prescott said.

Because Architectural Heritage is a nonprofit, it can sell those credits to an investor, he said. To ensure the maximum amount is received, the group wants to lease the property for the first five years, then sell it.

The grant came through Empire State Development’s Restore New York program. 

Architectural Heritage Executive Director Steven Engelhart said the site provides beautiful vistas of the Ausable River as it flows through downtown Keeseville. 

 “We think our location, in the heart of of the Adirondacks and with easy access to Plattsburgh, Burlington and downstate, could be an ideal setting for the discriminating professional, corporate or commercial entity,” he said in a press release.

CDC Real Estate in Rouses Point has agreed to work with Architectural Heritage to market the building. Founder and President Mark Barie said it is one of several new initiatives aimed at the revitalization of Keeseville.

”The Old Stone Mill project has the potential to be the centerpiece of the community’s revival,” he said.

OTHER PROGRESS

That revival is seeing progress elsewhere in the village, as well.

The recently formed Keeseville Revitalization Committee, which has met several times, gets together next at 5 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Grange Hall on Main Street, just west of the Architectural Heritage building.

One of its members, Barbara Davidson, bought the Kingsland Building on Front Street in March. She is in the process of renovating its three commercial storefronts and also creating seven one-bedroom apartments on the second floor.

The space next to the library will have an art gallery with a studio in the basement, Davidson said. She is negotiating with a sandwich shop for one of the other spaces and continues to look for additional tenants.

Four of the apartments have scenic river views, and one also overlooks the historic Arch Bridge on Main Street. The apartments will have air-conditioning and be pre-wired for cable and DSL.

There will also be a shared laundry room.

Prescott said Architectural Heritage Administrative Assistant Bonnie DeGolyer helped organize a Farmer’s Market that opened June 27 behind the Keeseville Library on Front Street. Located along the river across from the Old Stone Mill, its hours are 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays. 

“The views from there are just phenomenal. It’s been very successful and we’re very happy,” she said. “We’ve had an average of 10 vendors every week.”

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com