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Columns

June 2, 2014

Business changes, developments were plentiful in June 1974

Oneonta witnessed an abundance of new developments, changes and a major anniversary on the business front through the month of June 1974.

A brand-new business block had been recently opened in downtown Oneonta, and on Thursday, June 13, all were welcomed to an open house at what we know today as 125 Main St. At that time it was called the Central Plaza Building, an urban renewal project also known as Block I. Construction had begun about a year earlier.

Across the street on the south side of Main Street, construction for another business block, known as Block II, was encountering some problems. This block we know today as the Clinton Plaza.

The Daily Star of June 7, 1974 told how, “City Engineer John Buck has closed the sidewalks on Main Street and the Chestnut Street Extension because of unstable conditions in the construction site.”

There had been deterioration surrounding the foundation for the retail shopping center planned for the area. Cracks had opened at the Main Street curb line partly due to the vibrations caused by a recent pile driving operation.

“The site of the latest urban renewal project has been considered one of the most difficult to develop in the city,” the Star said. “A sharp drop in the elevations from Main to Market Streets presents a problem and the land itself is dotted with natural springs.” The difficulties were eventually conquered and the Clinton Plaza opened in the fall of 1975.

With these new buildings going up, other Oneonta businesses felt it would be cheaper to rehabilitate old buildings rather than start anew.

What had been a bookstore, the Chestnut Tree, near the corner of Chestnut Street Extension and Water Street, was being converted into a new drinking establishment, the Black Oak Tavern. If this wasn’t the first new bar on Water Street, it was an early pioneer, as the days of Broad Street were waning, where there had been a large concentration of bars for railroad workers and college students for several decades. Broad Street soon faced the wrecking ball, to be cleared for an urban renewal project that never made it off the drawing board.

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