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September 11, 2013

Main Street to host upper-floor tour

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — History buffs, developers and the curious may be interested in a tour of a different level offered along downtown Oneonta’s Main Street on Sunday, organizers said Tuesday.

The second floors of nine properties will be opened to visitors to give a glimpse of history and a hint at potential development opportunities, organizers said.

“Looking Up! A Tour of Downtown Upper Floors” will be from 1 to 4 p.m. The Greater Oneonta Historical Society and Main Street Oneonta are sponsoring the event. Tickets cost $8, a charge that will help cover expenses, which include food and entertainment at some sites, said GOHS executive director Bob Brzozowski. A paper handout will provide details about the sites on the self-guided tour, he said, and balloon bouquets will designate entrances.

The tour sites include the former Bresee’s Oneonta Department Store building, which has been converted into retail space on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors. The opening is the first opportunity for the general public to view the upper floor renovations, organizers said.

The other upper story sites on the tour are at 1 Dietz St., which has been renovated into apartments; the History Center’s ballroom; in the Masonic Lodge/Fairchild Mansion; in Stevens Hardware building; the Ford Block; the Oneonta Hotel; at 164 Main St.; and at 219-225 Main St.

Ticket holders may visit upper floors of any or all of the participating venues, organizers said, and someone will be posted at each location to provide information and answer questions.

“Downtown Oneonta has some very interesting second and third floors, areas that have been restored or renovated as well as spaces that haven’t changed in decades,” Brzozowski said in a media release. “This look at Oneonta past, present, and future is intended for everyone — history buffs, potential investors and the simply curious.”

Brzozowski said the second floor of 219-225 St. has a layout of a former rooming house but has been unoccupied for about 40 years and has ``a lot of potential” for restoration.

“That’s one of the most interesting ones on the tour,” he said.

Jeff House, acting community development director for the city of Oneonta, said he will be stationed on the second floor of the Ford Block building. Visitors may walk along the second floor, which extends from the buildings end at Muller Plaza to the area above the Latte Lounge and Subway restaurants, he said. The floor was gutted during urban renewal decades ago, he said, and remains raw and undeveloped.

“For the most part, the space is wide open, undeveloped space,” House said. The tour will present “developable acreage” on upstairs floors, he said, and may spark ideas among investors about possibilities in downtown Oneonta.

And with the range of raw and developed upper levels shown, the tour will give the general public a picture of the investment need for development, House said.

Neither Brzozowski, Common Council member for the Seventh Ward, nor House could recall a time when multiple buildings had opened up second floors for tours.

“It’s a great idea,” House said.

Brzozowski said GOHS had been considering sponsoring such a tour for several years.

“We’re finally pulling it off,” Brzozowski said. To follow up the tour, workshops may be offered on tax incentives and other topics that might be helpful to developers, he said.

Tickets are $8 but for GOHS or MSO members, tickets cost $5. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the History Center or at the MSO office at 242 Main St. for $1 off. Between noon and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, tickets will be sold at the History Center.

The ability to climb stairs is required at some of the venues. For more information, contact or 432-0960.