The O’Connell Organization, which is nationally famous for revitalizing run-down neighborhoods, came to Brockport in a big way on October 17th.
That’s when Greg O’Connell, the president and founder of The O’Connell Organization, bought the run down house at 49-51 Clinton Street that had been owned by Rich Miller.
People who have been inside the house at 49-51 Clinton Street say it is an absolute disaster inside, and that it is a disgrace that the village had issued a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for the property.
But what else is new? College landlords have been destroying historic properties in Brockport for decades and until now, no one has done a thing about it.
Greg O’Connell says that the O’Connell Organization came to Brockport because Jo Matela contacted him personally by phone and spoke to him about the Fay's Garage building at 60 Clinton Street, which is currently owned by the Greater Brockport Development Corporation (GBDC).
That building, which is also known as the Whiteside, Barnett & Co. Agricultural Works Building, had been abandoned for years before GBDC acquired it in 2008 and started to clean up the site.
The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2001, but redevelopment of the building, and the entire Erie Canal waterfront in the Clinton Street neighborhood, had stalled.
O’Connell’s visit to Brockport got it going again, and one of the first steps was to start the process of obtaining a tax exemption for the property from the Town of Sweden and the Brockport Central School District.
As Bill Andrews told the Village Board on June 11th, this is a win-win situation for Brockport. “The Clinton Street area has the lowest assessed value in the Village. It can be restored and made a valuable asset. However, it depends on an anchor like 60 Clinton Street.”
Moreover, “the Village would not be losing tax revenues on 60 Clinton Street since it is currently tax exempt,” because the Greater Brockport Development Corporation (GBDC) owns the building at 60 Clinton Street.
But some people just don’t get it. Rhett King, a college landlord, whined to the town board about another property becoming tax exempt. But King offered no alternative solution to jump start redevelopment of Brockport’s properties along the Erie Canal.
Once again, what else is new? The answer is O’Connell Organization.
The O’Connell Organization has been instrumental in revitalizing the historic Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, as well as the downtown section of Mount Morris, in Livingston County.
According to the New York Times, O’Connell brought Mount Morris back from the dead by buying up dozens of sagging one and two-story buildings along Main Street, where he restored the facades, installed new bathrooms and oak floors, and signed up tenants for the renovated apartments.
O’Connell also brought in new businesses, including an Italian restaurant, a barber shop, an antiques store, and a gourmet food shop.
The O’Connell Organization is a family owned and operated real estate development business that has rehabilitated more than 150 residential and commercial properties in New York State over the past 45 years.
The organization started in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, and has done a remarkable job in preserving and redeveloping the Red Hook Waterfront.
Until the 1960’s, the Red Hook neighborhood was a vibrant waterfront. However, in the 1960’s when the shipping industry changed from bulk shipping\to containerized shipping Red Hook’s facilities became obsolete. As a result, many businesses left Red Hook for New Jersey, and the neighborhood decline precipitously. By the 1990’s Red Hook was considered one of the most crime ridden places in the country.
But since the mid-1990’s, thanks to efforts of the O’Connell Organization, Red Hook has experienced an incredible economic upswing.”
The mission of the O’Connell Organization is to “Acquire, redevelop and manage property while preserving its historic value and utilizing its inherent attributes for the betterment of the community.”
That approach seems to be a perfect for Brockport.