Today, development groups announced the new tenants for the building. Utica College will be leasing 2 of the Harza Building's six floors for the expansion of its online division. Local officials and the college president say they say filling this downtown landmark is just the beginning of returning Utica to its former glory.
"We've been dreaming of coming back downtown in some fashion or another for sometime," says Todd Hutton, president of Utica College.
"It's just another piece of the puzzle; another 60 people working down here," says Tom Clark, Utica business owner.
Clark also owns the Adirondack Bank Building and the area's Mcdonald's restaurants, and he says the revitalization of this building will bring new life to downtown.
"This is the business hub as I've said all along for the region. Its gonna be vibrant and viable. And from where its come 12 years ago to today, this is just another step in the right direction," says Clark.
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says the sale of this building was one of his goals when he took office, and today...
"There is a return; its vibrant, we have the best services around. We have an opportunity to grow and if we look at our downtown and surrounding areas, what better place to be but in the heart of downtown Utica and Oneida County," says Mayor Palmieri.
Construction has already begun. And in just a few short months, Utica College online studies professors will fill the vacant floors.
"We expect to add at least 25 people in the next 5 years. I suspect it could be double than that," says Hutton.
And Hutton says the workforce won't be the only group to double
"We have plans to almost double our full time enrollment. These students will be online or in other sites in New York and in Florida," says Hutton.
And the increase in students will also mean an increase in money coming to Utica.
"You have a student in South Dakota taking a course online with Utica College. That student is paying tuition and that tuition accrues to the benefit of the city of Utica and Utica College. It ends up right here," says Hutton.
"People who were hopeless have hope at this point. I think there's optimism. We are a city but we are a community. And I think you're starting to see that positive working for our city," says Mayor Palmieri.
Utica College president Hutton says he hopes the move will will bring an additional 3,000 students to their already 3,900 strong student enrollment. He says online staff will be moving into their new home in the Harza Building by March of 2013.