Construction has begun on a downtown Utica landmark with a checkered past. We're talking about the former HSBC building. An absentee landlord let it fall to ruins. A local developer is bringing it back to life.
Major progress has been made inside the building that was once a historic bank, and then the home of squatters, stray animals, and criminals--who scrapped its metal before the city finally took control.
This expansive building is now in the hands of the Pezzolanella family--and there's big plans for its future.
"There's a need for it and with everything positive that's going on in the city there's going to be an even bigger need for it in the future," said Francis Pezzolanella.
"It" is 31 apartments, office space, and even a rooftop restaurant. It may look far from completion, but it's actually far better off than how the previous owner left it.
"Everything fell to the floor, everything that was on the ceiling fell to the floor, we had to get rid of it," he said.
The city seized the building from Ronald Prince of Los Angeles, after he fell behind on taxes and left it vandalized and vacant.
"Anything metal that was of any value, they took out," he said.
Since then, the Pezzolanella family took it off the city's hands, for one thousands dollars--but will invest millions.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the build--the rooftop bar and seafood restaurant
"The skyline down there is fantastic and being able to have a setting where people can eat, drink, mingle, where they can oversee the city is something Utica doesn't have yet," Pezzolanella said.
Some told Eyewitness News they were skeptical at first, but now that construction has begun, are looking forward to positive changes.
"I think if we keep doing that and coming together we can get this city back up and running," said Christopher Brown of Utica.
It will no longer be called the "former HSBC building," but the "Landmarc Buiding." That's "Landmarc" with a "C," which stands for the new owner's commitment to the city. It should be completed in 2 years.
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