It's a busy time in the town of Clayton. New businesses, infrastructure and public amenities hold the promise of more tourism, a stronger economy, and a better quality of life for locals.
Not long ago, a prime piece of waterfront real estate here was devoted to manufacturing. The Frink Snowplow factory closed in 2000. Now, a hotel developer is rapidly transforming the downtown property into the linchpin of a growing tourism economy.
The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel embodies, and is likely to strengthen, the town's growing tourist appeal. As the hotel goes up, many residents are excited. Jennifer Bach owns the River Day Spa and Salon just a few doors down from the construction site.
"I think everyone in general will pick up business-wise. And I think it'll be great," she said. "Clayton's doing a great job on updating, and just keeping everything cleaned up and letting the people come and enjoy it."
The hotel is one piece of an interconnected series of waterfront development projects. A pavilion built last year has already hosted many small concerts and picnics, and it acts as a gateway for people on the river. The town plans to lure those boaters to spend time – and money – on land, with new municipal docks. The village is expanding its sewer system, and planning to lengthen a walking trail.
The changes are happening fast. Developers broke ground on the hotel in June – and it's slated to open in May or June of 2014. Town Supervisor Justin Taylor said the Harbor Hotel is on track with its ambitious construction schedule.
"The project is going great, it's almost completely enclosed. They're looking for, within the next 30 days, to have it completely buttoned up so that they can put heat in the building. They're going to have anywhere from 35 to 70 folks working inside the structure all winter long," he said.
The town is pushing to finish its docks around the time the hotel opens. Taylor said bids came in over budget, so planners are working on a redesign. He said a new bidding process should begin in the next month.