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Mohawk Valley

History of the Camillus Cutlery building

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: History of the Camillus Cutlery building
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Before the fire, the former Camillus Cutlery building was in the process of being redeveloped into a multi-million dollar building to be known as Camillus Mills. However, the village's mayor says flames likely won't halt plans to bring new life to the former factory. Our Sarah Blazonis was there and has more on why this is some very good news for the village.

CAMILLUS, N.Y. -- It was a big blow to the village when Camillus Cutlery shut down for good in 2007. The factory stood in the village since the mid-1800s and at its peak, more than 200 people worked there. That number dropped sharply by the time it closed its doors and the building's been vacant ever since.

But officials say this redevelopment project can change all that.

When the old Camillus Cutlery building went up in flames Monday, so did part of the village's history.

"A lot of people for generations who lived in the village worked at Camillus Cutlery because Camillus Cutlery was actually founded and set up here and people then generated to this neighborhood to work there," said Camillus Mayor Patricia Butler.

"It was a vital part of the village. It was their identity. The signs used to have the knife on them, because that was what the village was all about," Camillus Village Trustee Helen Walsh said.

But the building sat vacant since shutting its doors in 2007. Sweet Spot Development bought the site two years ago and planned to turn it into residential and office space.

Walsh said, "It's huge. We need some tax infrastructure for the village to keep it going. It was put up to a vote last year to dissolve. It didn't happen. So to keep this village vital, we need businesses coming in."

At least $2 million dollars in Restore NY grants had been secured towards the $10 million phase one of the project. It was also listed by the CNY Regional Economic Development Council as one of its priority projects for the latest round of grants.

Camillus' mayor says plans were in the works to demolish the main building that was on fire in the spring. While she doesn't know what steps developer Tom Blair will take next, she says the fire likely isn't the end of redevelopment plans.

"Hopes and prayers that we're going to just continue to move forward and have it redeveloped as Mr. Blair would like it to be," Butler said.

Mayor Butler says it's likely going to be days before they know for sure how the project will move forward. But it looks like one bit of history will be preserved. The developer has said he planned to keep the iconic Camillus Cutlery signs on the side of one of the buildings in tact once redevelopment was complete. It does not look like the building those signs are on was destroyed.

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