Canton Merchants’ Association working to fill vacant downtown Jubilee building
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 5:38 pm

CANTON -- The Canton Merchants’ Association (CMA) says it is working to get the long-vacant downtown Jubilee building filled with a going concern once again.

The CMA has been compiling data on Main Street properties that are for rent or sale, and found four available as of mid-August.

The ongoing situation with the old Jubilee mall, behind the Municipal Building, is of concern to the CMA, according to a press release. One member of the group has described this building as a “huge black hole” in the center of Canton. The hope is that Gary Cohen, the owner of the vacant building and parking lot, will enter into more productive talks with the village, and that progress will soon be made on renovating and filling the space with businesses that will draw shoppers to downtown.

“The CMA hopes that Cohen feels some connection to the Canton community and sees that filling his vacant space is essential to the well-being of downtown,” the release said.

The CMA has begun to search for effective models of downtown revitalization. One possibility is the formation of a Business Improvement District. There are many BIDs in the Syracuse area and throughout the country and the CMA will be looking more closely at these as a possible model for Canton. A BID must be formed by local government, thus the CMA will only be researching this topic.

At CMA’s August meeting, the chair of the Grasse River Heritage (GRH) planning committee, Varick Chittenden, expressed interest in working with the CMA and other local organizations on projects that coincide with GRH interests. These include programming that enhances projects already completed by GRH, public access to visual and physical attractions of the waterfront, and economic development for downtown Canton and the Grasse River Corridor.

The CMA press release says the organization is enthused about working alongside other local organizations, such as GRH, as well as individuals, who may share similar interests. Those who share common concerns and goals for Canton and are interested in getting involved with the Canton Merchants’ Association are encouraged to contact the CMA at CantonMerchants@gmail.com, or attend their next meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17 at One Main Street, the offices of Gray and Gray CPA.

Meanwhile, the CMA heard guest Adam Paul, executive director of the St. Lawrence County Film Festival (SLIFF), at their most recent meeting.

He spoke with the group about ways to ensure that the 2015 festival atmosphere extends into the downtown and Main Street.

The association is encouraging all local businesses to get a head start by getting creative in drawing folks downtown during all community events by setting up a table or activity at the business during the upcoming Remington Festival Sept. 25-28. The more businesses that get involved, whether a retail store, a restaurant, a non-profit, or an office, the more likely festival attendees will be to take a walk down Main Street, according to a CMA press release from Rainbow Crabtree of Nature’s Storehouse, 21 Main St.

Those who can help with ideas are encouraged to contact the CMA at cantonmerchants@gmail.com.

Since March, the CMA has been meeting monthly in furtherance of their mission to help revitalize downtown, increase tourism and foster economic growth.