Watertown building repaired after being ransacked

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – This is the first step in finding housing for those in need in Jefferson County. It’s not about the homeless population, it’s about people who need a little help finding and paying for affordable housing.

A year ago, the building at 140 High Street in Watertown was filled with food, feces and syringes. Today it is a different building and it could help people who need affordable housing.

“I think there is history here. Most people are familiar with the Dean Building, and unfortunately the story of the Dean Building has not been good lately, said Stephen Byers, property manager.

Watertown city codes condemned the property in July 2021. More than a year later, the boards will come off the windows and the doors of the Dean Building will be reopened.

“The hope, I think, with most investors is to keep the area moving up. Obviously that’s going to take a lot of work. Honestly, it’s probably going to be a combination of the county, the city, and the investors coming in to trying to clean up some neighborhoods,” Byers said.

The Jefferson County Department of Social Services welcomes this partnership as it struggles to find housing for people. The Dean Building will not serve as an answer to the county’s homeless crisis, but it will be a building to help another population – one that needs a little help to make ends meet.

“You have to start with one building and one property at a time. You can’t start with whole blocks,” Byers said.

Rebuilding 140 High Street in livable conditions was not cheap. Just removing the trash costs $15,000. The renovations include security cameras to help building owners prevent another problem.

“Obviously we need to be protected from the kind of customers and tenants that were here before, but we’re looking forward to just providing more affordable housing in the Watertown area,” Byers said.

The monthly rent will be between $1,000 and $1,200 for the apartments. DSS says there aren’t many units left, and because the cost is what it is, the tenants they help make ends meet are very well vetted.

The first tenants plan to move in by the end of the month.

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