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Utica building demolition paves way for public market entry way project

By Eric Reinhardt


Oneida County, Utica partnered in the effort   

Crews in July demolished the building located at 417-421 Main St. in Utica as part of a shared-services agreement between Oneida County and the City of Utica. The effort was meant to “pave the way” for a new entrance to the county’s public market at Union Station. (PHOTO CREDIT: ONEIDA COUNTY)

UTICA — Oneida County and the City of Utica on July 7 announced the demolition of the Brown building located at 417-421 Main St. in Utica. The work started on June 29 and was completed on July 6.

The two entities forged a shared-services agreement to the demolish the structure in an effort that they believe will “pave the way” for a new entrance to the county’s public market at Union Station.

It’s a project that is meant to provide improved access to the Oneida County Public Market along with additional parking. It will also save taxpayers money in the process, the local governments contend.

“This was one area that we were able to help out Oneida County with a demolition crew, which, obviously, would be a savings to the county,” says Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, who spoke with CNYBJ on Aug. 6.

Oneida County’s leader concurred.

“This current partnership with the City of Utica has enabled us to clear the way for a proper entrance to the market and further improve this regional asset in a cost-effective manner,” Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. said in a statement. “The ongoing multi-million-dollar renovation to the REA Wing at Union Station has elevated the status of the Oneida County Public Market and spearheaded a resurgence in downtown Utica,” 

The county-owned Railway Express Agency (REA) Wing houses the Oneida County Public Market.

The City of Utica Department of Public Works donated the labor for the demolition team and miscellaneous equipment and services, while the county rented heavy equipment, hired the necessary consultants, and is paying the tipping fees. The Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority hauled away the debris.

“One of the things that we’ve always worked extremely hard on is working with other municipalities and other communities and I think this is a just a strong example of that. The City of Utica has a lot of tools in their box and we’re willing to work with others, as others have worked with us,” says Palmieri. 

The Oneida County Board of Legislators in September 2019 approved the county’s purchase of the property at a cost of $30,000. The total price of the demolition project is estimated at $350,000.

The demolished building was in “complete disrepair and had sat vacant for decades,” the city says. It was built in 1893 and used as a storage facility by various companies over the years.

The Oneida County Public Market operates on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a weekly event that Palmieri says has “been very successful.”

“You’re pulling people from all over the region, which is a great opportunity to not only be able to use the market but once they’re in the greater Utica area, they’re able to go … to lunch someplace… [and[ buy some gifts,” the Utica mayor adds.

The entryway project is not the only project happening at Union Station. Renovation of the REA Wing has “progressed in phases” over the last 15 years or so, with “dozens” of contactors involved, Philip Vanno, assistant to the Oneida County Executive, tells CNYBJ in an email.

Oneida County will invest another $250,000 this fall and next spring for structural repairs, minor interior renovation, and new restrooms for the public market. An additional $2 million would be needed to fully complete the renovation work, but that funding has not yet been allocated, Vanno adds.             

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