Arts foundation helps transform downtown Au Sable Forks

"We gradually came to think as we established a more permanent presence in this region that the Tahawus Lodge Center could be its anchor," said Kelly.

Plans for the building include restoring the picture-window storefront and renovating the ground floor as a retail space. The second floor would be turned into an open art studio and meeting space and the third floor converted into a dance and wellness center.

"We're thrilled," said Au Sable Forks Revitalization committee chair Susan Pulitzer, noting how synergistic the Appleby Foundation's plans for the building are with the committee's goals for Main Street. "It's a nice marriage."

In less than a month, $80,000 has already been pledged toward the project, which is being designed by Essex architectural team Premises.

Brashear said they expect to fund 40 percent of the project through contributions from businesses and individuals. The rest will come from state grants and assistance.

"The Tahawus Lodge Center project is a viable and welcome addition to Au Sable Forks to make it a better place to live and work," said Barbara Brassard, Essex County Empire Zone Coordinator. "This project not only deserves, but demands total support."

Brassard said since the Tahawus Lodge Center is an approved Community Development Project within Essex County Empire Zone, contributions of $500 or more to the project are eligible for a 25 percent tax credit against state income tax.

"The revitalization process doesn't happen overnight, but in steps," Brassard added, "and the renovation of the Tahawus Lodge is one of those steps."

Because the project is beginning in 2009, it is also eligible for funds from a $200,000 main street revitalization grant awarded to the town of Jay from New York State.

"I have read their project overview, and their overall plan for enhancing an anchor building in Au Sable Forks will have a significant economic impact on our community," said Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas in a press release. "Their sincere dedication to enhancing new opportunities for our youth is greatly appreciated."

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