A couple of weeks ago, I posted on the sale of 319 Connecticut Street, a significant historic property that will one day be an anchor building for the burgeoning commercial district. Last Friday, I was presented an opportunity to take another walkthrough of the property with new owners John Pantalena and David Wagner, who told me that the building was once home to the Hoeffler Ice Cream Company (1890s), Marine Bank (1920s), and more recently the live/work space of Jack Drummer, a local artist with work in the Albright Knox .
The last time that I was afforded a chance to walk through the property, it was a complete mess, filled with all sorts of debris – it was very hard to get through, with so many objects cast about. This time was a lot different because most everything was cleared out, in preparation for the rehab to get underway. Wagner toured me around the floors, pointing out all of the work that needed to be conducted. As I talked to Wagner, he told me that due to the amount of water damage in a number of areas, he felt that in another couple of years we would have lost the building – it would have been too far gone. Fortunately, the timing worked out for this one, and crews are already performing emergency repairs on the roof, to prevent any further damage to the edifice.
One thing that I can say is, now that most of the debris has been cleared out of the building, it’s easy to see just how incredible it will be once rehabbed. Plus, there are two adjoining lots, one which might become parking (hopefully with permeable materials similar to Five Points Bakery – crossing fingers). The other one will most likely be used as a community asset. Pantalena said that he hopes that the building one day becomes an epicenter for activity on the West Side – he is already throwing some ideas against the wall to see what’s going to stick. He wants to create something that the community will rally behind.
After the tour, Wagner sent along some photos, to show exactly what they are dealing with. We will be covering the advancements as they unfold.