David Yaman sees the work at a century-old building on Main Street like a painting on canvas — the design may be tedious, but the payoff is worth it.
For four years, work has been going on both behind the scenes and on the forefront for the former Crescent Corset Co. factory. Renovations are done and properties owners are on to the next step — filling the building with tenants.
“We’re actually complete with phase one and two,” said Yaman, owner of David Yaman Realty Services, and coowner of the former Crescent Corset Co. factory now known as Crescent Commons.
There are 47 apartment units — both one and two bedrooms — as well as four office suites and a 9,700-squarefoot area within the Crescent Commons building at 165 Main St.
Eighty percent of the apartments have been rented out since August, said Michael La Flair, director of marketing and community relations with Housing Visions of Syracuse. Housing Visions is partnered with Yaman on the $16.5 million project.
The apartments are upscale loft-style, Yaman said. Monthly rents start around $950, and Yaman expects to have the remaining apartments filled by the end of February.
The project has created a supply of market-rate housing, which has been lacking in Cortland, said Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency.
VanGorder said the success Yaman has had in filling the space proves people are looking for the affordable space in Cortland. and it’s not just people in Cortland, VanGorder said it is also people from Tompkins County who commute; employees at SUNY Cortland; and even employees at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.
The project also made use of a building in distress. “It was a couple of bad winters away from being a pile of bricks,” VanGorder said.
The whole project was a huge shot in the arm for the community, VanGorder said. “It’ll help stabilize the neighborhood.”
Eric Flynn, an employee of David Yaman Realty Services, lives in an apartment at Crescent Commons. He likes the functionality of the layout with an open kitchen that allows for conversation with guests in the living room area.
Flynn, originally from Syracuse, joined Yaman while the building was well underway. “How can you not fall in love with the building,” he said.
Part of the payoff Yaman likes is being able to bring a turn-of-the-century building back to use. “If we didn’t do this, it’d be a big burden to the community,” he said.
Crescent Commons was originally the Crescent Corset Factory built in 1923, where Lady Luke corsets were made for the JC Penney department store chain. The site is listed on both the state and national registers of histroic places.
In 2015, Yaman joined with Housing Visions Unlimited to transform the property into joint office and apartment space.
Details of the project were revealed in July 2016. Construction began Sept. 13, 2017.
Office space was occupied by June 2018 with apartments beginning to lease in August, Yaman said.
There has been an uptick in apartment leases since then, he added. “Word of mouth got out as the population upstairs increased,” he said.
In October 2018, The Preservation Association of Central New York awarded Yaman and Housing Visions the Pat Earle Award for their work in preserving the building.
The city of Cortland contributed $250,000, National Grid gave $300,000 and the New York Regional Economic Development Council gave $1 million.
The rest of the funding comes from the equity of state and federal historic tax credits and a permanent mortgage with the Community Preservation Corp.
The developers also received a payment in lieu of taxes from the Cortland County Industrial Development Agency in September 2016, which will save them more about $1.6 million in property taxes over 15 years.