Downtown Utica was once almost as bustling as New York City, but over the years business and people moved away. The Harza building has been a metaphor for downtown. At its prime it was the center of Utica but over the years came urban sprawl... Leaving only a few tenants in the downtown building. Now the landmark builder has new hope and a new owner. Developer Tom Clark bought the building from the city for a quarter of a million dollars and he hopes he can bring life back to the city.
Clark says, "I think it can bring more people down here, I think it can bring another couple hundred people down here so they can eat lunch at the various restaurants, shop in the various stores and that sort of thing. Make the downtown more vibrant by bring more people to the area."
Mayor Palmieri says the city was down the wire and had to find a tenant otherwise this otherwise his building would've gone to an auction.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says, "We would not have any control of who comes in here, we would have no control what so ever, it would be reminiscent of what we look across the street with the HSBC building and we see what has happened here we have a local business owner who is proven to be successful proven that his heart is in Utica and downtown and we can't ask for anything more than that."
The former Woolworth's building has been city owned since 2004 and many in Utica are glad to see the center of downtown have a shot at revival.
Utica resident Melnie Lyman says, "Like everybody says it's the heart of downtown Utica, that's where we need stuff to come, people can come to Utica to see what we're about."
Palmieri added, "It is the heart of the downtown area that has been kind of dormant for the last eight years and it just shows a sign at this point the city's open for business and downtown is open for business."
Clark says he has already begun the process of finding tenants but he expects it will take years to fill.