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Work begins on the Woolworth building in Watertown's Public Square. Photo: Joanna Richards
Work begins on the Woolworth building in Watertown's Public Square. Photo: Joanna Richards

Work begins on Watertown's Woolworth building

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Work has begun to revive a long-vacant eyesore at the center of downtown Watertown.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent
Workers on a lift were covering the windows of the Woolworth building with plastic Thursday morning in Public Square. Asbestos abatement is the first step in transforming the nearly century-old structure.

Asbestos abatement is the first step toward transforming the vacant Woolworth building into apartments and businesses. Photo: Joanna Richards
Asbestos abatement is the first step toward transforming the vacant Woolworth building into apartments and businesses. Photo: Joanna Richards
The property has officially changed hands, and the new developer is on an ambitious schedule to reopen it by early 2015.

On a tour in the spring, city officials and a developer tiptoed around pooling water, mummified pigeons, and old merchandise left behind by former business tenants. Developers plan to replace the dead birds and trash with paying human tenants in apartments and businesses. It's one of a handful of projects intended to revitalize downtown Watertown.

The building was one of the earliest outlets for the Woolworth five-and-dime chain. The company's founder grew up in Jefferson County.

A state grant and local tax breaks helped finance the project.

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