December 2, 2021

Chamber move on hold again

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Philip Briggs of Red Armor of Dryden, installs the fixture boxes Monday for the electrical system at the Hopkins Block, 83-85 Main St., Cortland. The Cortland County Chamber of Commerce is waiting for renovations to be completed on the building before moving from the county-owned building at 37 Church St.

The Cortland County Chamber of Commerce is now looking at a March 1 move in date to its new Main Street, Cortland location after having to postpone the day again because work is still expected to continue at the building for the next two months.

“A lot of the integral structure of the building was compromised,” said Jamie Yaman, an owner of the building, on Monday.

The chamber had planned to move into the Hopkins Block building at 83-85 Main St. at the end of 2020 after having pushed the move-in date previously due to both structural issues and construction crews having other jobs they were working on.

The four-story building, owned by Yaman and Steve Franco, was built in 1890. It’s been under renovation for more than 11 months by Scott Steve — an independent project manager — along with Jeremy Stiles and Stiles Contracting.

Yaman said it almost wasn’t salvageable because of the condition it was in. The back of the building had collapsed 50 to 60 years ago and previous contractors had made only superficial repairs.

Now, construction crews have had to work to ensure the building is safe and renovate it to fit the chamber’s needs and have 12 apartments in a $2.4 million project. The project received $500,000 each in Downtown Revitalization Initiative and Anchor Business grants and a $100,000 grant from National Grid.

On Monday, modern wooden I-beams mixed with 130-year-old two-by-eight floor joists, and modern cinderblock with brick as carpenters worked on the ceiling of the fourth floor — the top of what was once an opera house. An electrician installed electrical boxes on the third floor, which was added because the opera house featured.

“They’re working there every day,” Bob Haight, the executive director of the chamber, said Monday. “They’re doing everything they need to correctly.”

Yaman said he thinks the apartments will be ready by May.

“It’s looking great,” Haight said, noting they’re excited to get into the new space.

But until the chamber can move, it’s staying at its current location, 37 Church St., even as the Cortland County District Attorney’s Office begins to take over the space.

“We’re in regular communication with the county,” Haight said. “The county has been really good to us.”