By JAMES CUMMINGS • Special To AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – He’s called it a “dream project.”
Now, Chip Klugo’s dream has come true.
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Klugo cut the ribbon on the five-apartment building next to the former Bresee’s (now Parkview Apartments). The redone building includes first-floor retail space, occupied by Island Premium Printing.
“The building was offered to me while I was doing the Bresee’s project in 2013,” he said. “We couldn’t make the numbers work and decided to focus on the main project. The Stevens building came up for sale a few years later we rewrote a separate grant and the numbers made sense, so we dug in.”
The building, home of the oldest business in continuous operation in the downtown before the death of owner John O. Stevens in 2012, appealed to Klugo, who has renovated old buildings in Corning and Bath, as well as the former Bresee’s, a project that included putting apartments in the former telephone exchange on Dietz Street.
“It’s great to have the community come out and see what we’ve been working on for the last 10 months,” he said. “I’m proud to show that the legacy of the building continues onward.”
Klugo worked with Elise Johnson-Schmidt of Corning, the preservation architect. “We worked with existing walls to maintain historical integrity, creating functional apartments that flow well and capitalize on the historic elements of the building,” she said.
Apartment 201, in particular, used to house railroad workers. “There was a section in 201 that was a main part of the building and was used in railroad days. Doors, stud walls, everything was kept intact,” said Klugo.
“The other section is the freight elevator,” he continued. “It was installed by the Stevens family. The motor was up in the roof shaft and probably weighed about 500 pounds. We enlisted the Twelve Tribes of the neighboring Yellow Deli to help dismantle it.”
In thanks, he gave them the elevator.
“It will either end up as an addition to their Oneonta location or in Plymouth, Mass.,” said Klugo, who installed a brand new elevator in its place. “We salvaged the original layout. It’s pretty clever how you had to work around it.”
To help make the project viable, a $750,000 Restore NY Grant, administered by the City of Oneonta, was earmarked for the Stevens building. “It was a collaboration with us as the developer and the city,” said Klugo.
He also made sure to hire local contractors for the project: McClintock Electric, Schaefer Plumbing and Blue Maple Masonry among them. “We wanted to keep the work in the community,” he said.
Family-owned Timeless Building & Design of Cobleskill handled the trim, with Jerry Johnson as the finish contractor.
“It was difficult to try and make the new match the old,” he said. “Working with 200-year-old wood and making it look like you didn’t do anything is challenging,” he said. “But it was fun the whole time, I would do it again and again.”
With two of five apartments already claimed, Klugo anticipates the rest to be filled within a few months.
The apartments, with hardwood floors and granite countertops, start at $1,250. The third-floor apartment has a balcony, and two include electric, heat-producing fireplaces.
“People would live here if they want to have a piece of history,” he said. “We take care of our tenants and understand that when we put this kind of money into a building, we don’t just abandon ship.”