OSWEGO, NY – Hundreds of people in and around the Port City have expressed the desire to save the former Cahill’s Fish Market.
Local entrepreneur Tony Pauldine said he is the man for the job.
An Oswego native, Pauldine has been a developer and contractor for more than three decades. One of the larger projects he’s done is the King Arthur project.
He added that he has just signed a lease with the Children’s Museum of Oswego.
“So, it’s official. The Children’s Museum will be going into the King Arthur building,” he said. “We’re excited about that.”
Tuesday evening in the conference room in the lower level of Canal Commons, he addressed his plan to save the historic Cahill Building. Nearly two dozen people were on hand to hear his plan and offer comments.
As far as finances, Pauldine said, “We have in-house the finances currently to save the building. We’re not at this point looking for additional loans or funds.”
The cost of the project is likely to be about $1 million, maybe even a little more, he added.
Pauldine said he recently restored a building that “believe it or not” was in worse shape than the Cahill Building. He is confident that he can save it.
For the last eight months, they have had a signed purchase offer for the building in to the city, he said.
He met recently with the community development director and some of the city councilors to explain what he wants to do with the building.
“The Cahill Building is a special building. And, I’m sure that most of you know that it’s the oldest commercial building in Oswego,” he said. “I remember the building fondly in my younger years.”
Pauldine said he likes a challenge and has never built a new house or commercial building; he has renovated and saved many, he added.
What he foresees with the Cahill Building is a 12-suite boutique-hotel. He’d call it something like “Cahill’s Landing,” he said. “I like the idea of keeping the memory of its recent past. It’s potentially a gorgeous building. It deserves to be saved.”
If he had those 12 rooms, he could have them filled tomorrow, he said, adding, “There is that kind of need for it.”
Pauldine has been contacted by a wine merchant who said they’d love to find a place in Oswego, close to the river, where they could promote their brands of wines at a small eatery, he said.
Someone else inquired about finding a place where they could do a small fish fry, he added.
“We put in an offer to the city. We’ve updated it. I think they’re ready to choose a developer and move forward,” Pauldine said. “There may be some other offers that come to the table.”
There are still some legal issues to be resolved.
“I was asked if I would willing to present my offer and have it accepted contingent upon the successful legal wrangling that’s going on, which could possibly be taken care the end of this month, the beginning of next or it could be the first of the year,” he said.
He was also approached about going in and shoring up the site in case things go past the first of the year.
“I said absolutely. If for some reason we lost the building, well then, we’ve done something good for Oswego and saved the building. But I feel really confident that it will go that way,” he said.
The south wall, he pointed out, needs to be taken down from the top of the parapet to the ceiling of the first floor.
They are proposing to rebuild it with the window configuration as it is.
The roof should be taken off and re-done as well, he added.
“A project of this size will take about two years,” he said. “I want to see the building saved personally. I’m incredibly excited about it. I have never started a project that I didn’t finish. I give you my word, if we start this project, we will finish this project. If the people want that building saved, it can be saved.”
Steven Phillips suggested having a community buy-in for some parts of the project. It would give residents a chance to be involved, he said.
Pauldine said the next step is to get together with the architects. Once his proposal is accepted, he can start having layouts and other work done.
There potentially is an offer which would result in the building being razed.
Members of the audience encouraged everyone to contact their councilors and attend council meetings to support saving the building.