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January 30, 2013

Developer looks to future of former Bresee's

Like a beehive that masks the intense work of making honey, the covered windows of the former Bresee’s Oneonta Department Store hide the hammering and sawing of carpentry crews building apartment and retail space inside.

On four floors, wooden beams run from floor to ceiling in the Main Street building, creating a skeleton framing office suites on the ground floor and apartments upstairs.

“It’s pretty neat,’’ project developer Charles Klugo repeated as he moved from ground to top floor, pointing out historic ornaments and spaces during a tour Tuesday afternoon. He pointed to the red oak of the original staircase, the wallpaper from the last century and the windows where sashes are being preserved.

“If the walls could talk … there are so many stories,’’ Klugo said. “I can imagine.’’

Klugo Oneonta LLC has been working at the site about a year, Klugo said. His purchase of the property for $400,000 from the Otsego County Development Corp. is expected to be finalized at a closing next week, he said, and he will be able to market the property, though he already has had some inquiries.

The anticipated closing is a significant step in a multiyear economic revitalization effort to save the downtown area near Chestnut Street.

Under Klugo Oneonta plans in the Bresee’s Redevelopment Project, the building at 155-165 Main St. will be converted into commercial spaces on the first floor and dwelling units on the upper floors. The project includes a parking lot with about 55 spaces, and the nearby three-story building at 1 Dietz St. is being converted into a five-unit apartment house.

Klugo said he expects the project to be completed by year’s end, and occupancy by yet-to-be-determined retailers on the first floor could be in late autumn.

The project’s status prompted a broad smile by Carolyn Lewis, Otsego County economic developer and administrator of the Otsego County Industrial Development Agency. Property easements, a tax abatement agreement and other documents are ready for a closing next week, she said.

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