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Clarkson announces massive downtown restoration project

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Clarkson announces massive downtown restoration project
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The historic downtown campus of Clarkson University has sat underutilized for years. But careful foresight by the college is making a multi-million dollar renovation possible. Barry Wygel has more.

POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Old Main and Snell Hall stand as a gateway to Potsdam. Some of the most historic buildings in the North Country have stood with only minimal usage since the school moved to its current campus.

"They are all in good condition. We refer to it as they have good bones," said Ian Hazen, director of facilities and services at Clarkson University.

Clarkson University took great care to make sure the buildings were kept in good condition in case they were needed again. Now the college plans a complete restoration of the buildings, bringing them back to their former glory. The project began when Clarkson acquired the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries.

"Many of the funds that have become available, they are state funds to renovate Old Main come because of that Beacon acquisition. Locating the R&D facilities here turned out to be a cheaper solution than building a new facility down in Beacon, New York," said Clarkson University President Tony Collins.

Next door to Old Main, in Snell Hall, the college plans on locating the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning Project.

"Within the Arts Council spaces there are seven business incubator spaces that are set aside for entrepreneurs and start-ups. That could be artists, poets, graphic designers," said Melissa Wagner Telford, project fund developer for the Regional Arts and Interactive Learning Project.

Clarkson is looking for outside developers to come in and turn the top two floors of Snell Hall, as well as an adjacent building into apartments that can be used by students and faculty.

Clarkson says this massive renovation project fits hand in hand with Clarkson's mission to help revitalize economy, saying a healthy Potsdam leads to a healthy college.

"For Clarkson to be able to attract and retain the best faculty and staff and to attract more students, we need a vital village, a vital town, a vital region," said Collins.

A college-operated incubator program will also move to the renovated campus, bringing with it about 150 start-up businesses that are already in the works.

Construction on the project is already underway and the college hopes to have it completed in about a year.

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