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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Hamilton Initiative, University Release Plans for Utica St. Development

After multiple years of planning, the Hamilton Initiative and Colgate University have announced that demolition will soon begin at 18-22 Utica Street to make way for a new four-story, mixed-use development. Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Investment Officer JS Hope and Associate Vice President for Community Affairs and Auxiliary Services Joanne Borfitz sent an email to the University community on Feb. 5 with concept art and additional updates on the project.

The project is intended to spur economic development in the Village by adding space for new storefronts, restaurants and offices while widening existing alleyways to create a new community space with a stage for performances and outdoor seating.

Borfitz explained that the new building will also accommodate 41 new apartments for Colgate faculty, staff and community members, addressing the issue of Hamilton’s housing shortage.

“That current building where the Hub had been located was a really underused building and not in good shape. It needed something done to it,” Borfitz said. “We spent a lot of time saying, ‘What could we do to best help the community and add to the vitality and the community charm that we all love in Hamilton?’ And housing was the right answer because it is such a need.”

Village of Hamilton Mayor Ruthann Loveless further addressed the significance of the new apartments for the community in a University news release on Feb. 5. 

“The Village, town and Colgate have all identified the need for more housing as a top priority. Too many current and potential new hires find it impossible to live in the community where they work,” Loveless said. “This new mixed-use development will help address this issue, as well as add to the economic vitality of the village and increase the tax base. I am excited and pleased that this project is moving forward.”

The renovation was fully funded by the University with the property management company The Hamilton Initiative LLC acting as the project’s developer. The Hamilton Initiative, whose sole member is Colgate, owns a number of properties in downtown Hamilton including the Hamilton Theater and the building that holds the Colgate Bookstore. 

“This is the first new building in the Village of Hamilton that Colgate and the Initiative have worked on,” Borfitz said. 

The contract for the construction was signed on Jan. 29. Construction is set to begin in late February 2024 and is expected to be finished by October 2025.

One of the primary occupants of the existing building is the Hub, a New York State certified business incubator and collaboration between Colgate and the Village of Hamilton’s Partnership for Community Development. The incubator moved locations in the first week of January to prepare for extensive renovations to the original space.

The Hub serves both students and community members with resources to help foster and support entrepreneurship, including a full-time director who is a certified business advisor. For the next two years, the Hub will be located at 8 Lebanon Street, next to the Colgate Bookstore. Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Carolyn Strobel-Larsen shared her thoughts regarding the new location. 

“It’s a little smaller than where we were before, but it’s actually a little bit more walkable,” Strobel-Larsen said. “We think we’ll get more traffic, especially with people who are eating out, shopping and at the [Colgate] Bookstore. We’re really happy with the location.”

Sophomore Bill Lou, co-founder of Cha’Gate Bubble Tea, described the Hub as an important space for student ventures and those interested in pursuing entrepreneurship.

“We did have two events where we sold bubble tea right in front of the Hub and it was great,” Lou said. “We had a lot of people come out. The Hub was definitely a really nice place for us; it’s nice for ventures to have a place to go if they need that space to work or use that place to promote their ventures and things like that.”

To continue to support local entrepreneurs, the Hub team hopes to have a space for businesses to rent for shorter periods of time. 

“Different businesses who currently don’t have a brick and mortar storefront [and are] working out of their homes with an online presence or entrepreneurs that are just starting out can test the market to see if they want to invest in renting a storefront,” Borfitz said. “The Hub will encourage businesses to do that.”

Lou urged students to interact with the Hub and take advantage of its resources and events.

“For those who own a venture, I would say for sure should go and check out these events to see if you can make some connections or learn something from these events,” Lou said. “And even if you don’t, you can go out and support the student-led ventures; you might find some interest yourself and maybe even join a venture.”

Borfitz encouraged students to reach out to her via email with ideas and suggestions for the Hub’s new space.

“We would love to hear from the students about what they think Hamilton needs because we’re going to be actively recruiting businesses, and it’s not only for this space, but we will oftentimes have other openings as well,” Borfitz said. “We’d love to hear student ideas of what other types of businesses they’d like to see.”

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    Meredith LelandFeb 9, 2024 at 10:11 pm

    This is a far, far better use of the space than the previous plan, which was to shoehorn in a brutalist multimillion-dollar museum by a certain disgraced starchitech. From what I can tell, the design has all the charm and warmth of an industrial warehouse — twinning with the concrete “prison” across the street and further down — but at least it’s preserving commercial space while also providing more housing.

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