Work begins on Watertown's Woolworth building

Dec 5, 2013

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

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. 

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.