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October 26, 2012

 

Business incubator moving forward

Construction to begin soon on conversion of Main St. building into classrooms

Business

Bob Ellis/staff photographer
This building at 40-42 Main St. in Cortland will house the Cortland Business Innovation Center, which is being funded with state grants and run by SUNY Cortland and the Cortland Downtown Partnership.

By NEIL BENJAMIN JR.
Staff Reporter
nbenjamin@cortlandstandardnews.net

After receiving city approvals in recent days, developers of a planned downtown business incubator project plan to begin work soon to finalize the design and begin construction in the spring.
The city Planning Commission on Monday unanimously approved plans to develop a building at 40-42 Main St. into the Cortland Business Innovation Center. The city Historic and Architectural Review Board approved the project on Oct. 11.
The center is a joint effort of SUNY Cortland and the Cortland Downtown Partnership.
“It’s kind of a two-fold thing,” said Kathleen Burke, associate economics professor at the college. “On the academic side, we’ll have out students trying to develop their own business ideas using the know-how of successful local businesses and people in the community. Then, within the community, we’ll use the talents of our students to assist small, growing businesses.”
The second and third floors of the three-story downtown building, which houses custom graphics shop Logo This, will be remodeled to house the center.
“Essentially, SUNY Cortland will be working through the center to connect local businesses that need expertise in certain areas such as web development, marketing, etc., with student interns who can help them,” said Fred Pierce, the college’s director of public relations, in an email. “The businesses get the help they need (and) the students gain important experience.”
Adam Megivern, Cortland Downtown Partnership’s executive director; Jeffrey Taw, an architect with Holmes, King, Kallquist and Associates, and Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp., have been working to push this agenda forward.
Taw and his company are working on the logistics of everything in the construction and remodeling phase.
Megivern, who presented the plans at the recent city meetings, said the project has two phases. The first part is to create a new street-level facade.
Taw said they want to take down the “jewel-box display” and build a sidewalk right up to the main entrance in the front and also a ramp to the side entrance.
“We want to align the structure of the storefront with the original building,” Taw said. “We’re going to build cast-stone pilasters.”
Pileasters, according to Taw, are essentially columns built into walls. Taw said this will give the building a more historic yet fresh look.
The second part is to build an elevator with a vestibule behind the building to make it the upper floors wheelchair accessible. The elevator would connect the building to neighboring structures.
Megivern said he has been in contact with the surrounding businesses, but that talks about it are ongoing.
He would not say if those businesses were onboard with the idea of an elevator that connects.
The elevator would replace three parking spaces on Haskell Place.
Taw said it will take about a month to finish construction design documents, then bids for the work will be put out.
The timetable for beginning work on the building is spring, although Taw said it is possible work can begin in late winter. He added, though, that construction in the winter brings with it a handful of issues and that it will probably start in the spring.
It’s unclear as to how much this will cost. Megivern was unreachable Thursday and this morning.

 

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