The Telegram
  • Irish center construction to resume soon, attorney says

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  • UTICA — Ray Jadwick has been looking at what he jokingly refers to as the “West Utica swimming pool” for the last several years.
    No, the Utica business owner doesn’t live by a city pool.
    Instead, his business, the Utica Custom T-Shirt Company, at 604 Columbia St., sits across the street from the planned site of the Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley.
    Construction on the $2 million project started in 2011, but stalled shortly after roughly $500,000 was spent on the design and construction of the building’s foundation.
    Now, except for the foundation and a few piles of construction-related materials, the site sits empty.
    But, with a city-imposed deadline just weeks away, work is about to begin again, at least according to the Irish Center’s attorney.
    Peter Karl III, who represents the center and sits on its board, said construction work at the site, at 623 Columbia St., will resume in August.
    “Construction will absolutely be resumed during the last week of August with a scheduled completion date of June 1, 2015,” Karl said in an email.
    The late August start time comes just before a Sept. 1 deadline set by the city’s Urban Renewal Agency for construction to resume at the site. Earlier this year, the agency adopted a resolution setting a 30-day notice of default for failure to resume construction by that date and/or a 60-day notice for failure to finish by the June 1, 2015, date Karl referred to in his email.
    The deadlines came after several extensions to finalize financing and to restart construction were granted to center officials.
    Urban Renewal Agency Executive Director Brian Thomas said he was “encouraged they still intend to stick with the extension that was granted.” But other city officials are less optimistic.
    “They have to get this project moving as soon as possible,” said Councilman David Testa, D-2, who represents the portion of the city where the center would go and has raised questions about the project in the past. “I do want them to succeed, I just think the matter of them getting the funding is the whole problem. I question a year from now if it’s really going to happen. I hope so, but I really question it.”
    Officials from the center previously have said they are seeking additional financing to help complete the project, which is mostly funded through proceeds from the Great American Irish Festival, held each summer at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds in Frankfort. This year’s festival continues through Sunday.
    Karl said his organization also applied for an economic development grant last month and has received support for the project from local, state, federal and tourism officials.
    “The financing is still being finalized as lenders want to confirm in August that the profits from this weekend’s Great American Irish Festival, which net proceeds are being applied to the project, are consistent with those of the prior ten years of this event,” he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Construction can’t resume soon enough for Jadwick, who’s still looking at the “swimming pool.”
    “Enough time has passed,” he said. “Everybody’s been pretty patient, but it’s time things get resolved one way or another.”
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