May 28, 2013
Developer rehabbing Homer building
Former Homer Laundry will have 5 new storefronts, apartments
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tom Niederhofer stands in front of the former Homer Laundry building he recently purchased with plans of renovating the upper floor into apartments and commercial space on the ground level.
HOMER — The former Homer Laundry is getting cleaned up for a new life as developer Tom Niederhofer works to restore a crumbling storefront and old apartments in the building.
Niederhofer plans to convert the building at 19-21 N. Main St. to five storefronts, with two 2,000-square-foot end units and three 1,000-square-foot store fronts in between.
“And that’s what it used to be a long time ago and I just want to bring ‘em back,” said Niederhofer, owner of TN Custom Homes of 11A Water St.
There are three apartments on the second floor of the building that have not been occupied since about the 1980s that Niederhofer also plans to renovate.
Construction on the project began the week before last, Niederhofer said.
Exterior painting on the building is underway and $10,000 was spent to clean up the former Homer Laundry building which still contained large equipment from Homer Laundry and Cleaners, Niederhofer said.
Originally, the 1830s building was the Homer Exchange, Niederhofer said, which was a hardware store owned by William Sherman, the first New Yorker to make mass-produced nails.
Francis Carpenter, a Homer resident who painted “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet,” which hangs today in the Capitol in Washington, D.C., also had a studio in the building, he said.
The storefront and apartment renovations will constitute the first phase of planned construction at the site, with the goal of bringing in rent payments to cover the $255,000 mortgage, he said.
The building’s third floor will go unrenovated for now, said Niederhofer, who has not yet developed a plan for the space.
Niederhofer is seeking a Main Street development grant through Thoma Development Consultants of Cortland for $150,000 that may be put toward an elevator for the building.
Possible pollution at the site from the former Homer Laundry was a “big concern,” and a months-long environmental study was conducted at the property, Niederhofer said.
“And everything passed,” he said. “And if it didn’t pass, the whole project would be abandoned.”
Niederhofer purchased Briggs Hall, a former funeral home next door, in February 2012, and that building, which now houses the banquet facility, The Manor at Briggs Hall, shares a parking lot with the former Homer Exchange.
Shared parking was a concern when the project first appeared before the Village Planning Board in April, Niederhofer said, but Niederhofer returned to the board May 13 with a parking plan that showed ample parking and the project was approved.
Niederhofer also noted that the Homer Town Hall has plenty of public parking next door.
Beginning the project took longer than Niederhofer anticipated, with 14 months passing between the date of the purchase offer and the start of the project as the environmental review was completed, Niederhofer said.
“I’ve owned it for about two months now, and I still sleep at night,” Niederhofer said. “I’m actually still excited about it.”
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