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Massena officials support Homestead Dairy building rehabilitation

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MASSENA - The village Board of Trustees is supporting a businessman’s effort to rehabilitate the Homestead Dairy building on West Hatfield Street.

American Asphalt Inc. purchased the Homestead Dairy building at 106 W. Hatfield St. and an associated parking lot for $12,700 at the recent St. Lawrence County tax sale. Owner Shawn B. Thrana said he will begin immediately cleaning up the front of the property, then may convert the structure for a new use next year.

Mr. Thrana has several ideas for the building. He may convert the structure into a six-unit apartment building, or turn it into a sports-themed bar and restaurant. Another possibility is to convert part of the building into a beer store and bottle redemption center and turn the rest into a coin-operated laundry. He plans to replace the building’s roof and parking lot.

Mayor James F. Hidy previously said he supported Mr. Thrana’s plan to give the building new life. But the village board had been exploring its demolition; code enforcement officer Gregory C. Fregoe had issued a report recommending the building come down because it was in “terrible shape.”

His recommendation is nonbinding; the board ultimately decides whether to demolish it or not, and typically retains an engineer to determine whether the building is structurally sound before that vote.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Trustees Patricia K. “Trish” Wilson, Francis J. Carvel and Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies also threw their support behind Mr. Thrana’s ideas instead of proceeding further with the building’s demolition. Ms. Wilson pointed out that the village can still make sure the building’s new owner brings the structure up to code and addresses the deficiencies reported by Mr. Fregoe.

“The new owner still has to meet those in the eyes of the board,” she said.

Ms. Wilson said she didn’t think Massena needed additional apartment units, but looked forward to seeing Mr. Thrana’s plans. That Massena neighborhood could benefit from a new business, she said.

Mr. Carvel and Mr. Deshaies both spoke of the revenue benefits the village will see if the building is restored instead of demolished.

“Personally, I think we should keep any property we can on the tax rolls,” Mr. Carvel said.

“If we keep it on the tax roll, it’s a benefit for the whole community,” Mr. Deshaies added.

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