UTICA, N.Y.  (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Mark Mojave, who owns Gerber’s Tavern – which is adjacent to the project site – noted the renovations to Oriskany and Liberty streets by the state, the construction of Wynn Hospital, and the opening of the Nexus Center just down the street, as an example of the local progress that inspired his effort.

Also a contributing factor? A love of history.

“I’ve always liked this neighborhood,” said Mojave, Principal, 118 Liberty Street, LLC. “I’ve always been attracted to, that which is historic. And the history is really what makes Utica, Utica.”

This is one of the oldest sections of the city; In fact, a draft for the Civil War was even held through the green doors.

“Names were being drawn from a hat through that set of doors,” explained Mojave, “They were being read aloud to the citizenry who had gathered to hear if they or their brethren would be called to go and fight for the union. A lot of history here.”

Also included in the project area was Club George, which was a well-known, popular nightclub that was known for its jazz music. Unfortunately, that structure is not sound and will have to be taken down.

“This building has had a productive and useful life,” said Mojave.

“I think there is tremendous opportunity here to ensure that it has a productive, useful life for many, many decades to come.”

This $18.5 million project calls for the renovation of the existing structures in the block that borders Liberty, Hotel, Whitesboro, and Seneca streets – with dedicated off-street parking to be located along the east side of Seneca Street.

Not only will this revitalize the appearance of the city, but it will also bring 58 market-rate apartments to the top three floors of the property and commercial retail space on the first floor.

“As these projects come online, they are being filled up, and there is a projected shortage of market-rate housing in this market for many years to come,” said Mojave, “So the demand is clearly there.”

Funding will be provided by 118 Liberty Street, LLC., but the project has also received a $2 million Empire State Development Grant and will be eligible for Historic Tax Credits, as it sits in the lower Genesee Street historic district.

This project is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months.