Washington Street Properties, Watertown, NY

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2014 American Business Awards

Company: Washington Street Properties, Watertown, NY
Company Description: Washington Street Properties is a commercial real estate development and management company located near Fort Drum in the City of Watertown, New York. The Company has experienced tremendous success while spearheading local economic revitalization efforts through value-added real estate investments in a wide variety of assets, including apartments, office buildings, retail and mixed-use properties.
Nomination Category: Company / Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Company of the Year - Real Estate

Nomination Title: Washington Street Properties

Tell the story about what this nominated organization achieved since January 1 2013 (up to 525 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:  TEXT REDACTED FOR PUBLICATION

In 2013 Washington Street Properties successfully executed a series of innovative real estate development projects in Watertown, New York. Though economically depressed in the past, historic downtown Watertown is experiencing a renaissance. The revitalization has been spearheaded by Washington Street Properties under the direction of founder Brian Murray, a professor-turned-developer who has collaborated with local entrepreneurs to breathe life back into neglected or abandoned properties.

In 2013 Washington Street Properties re-developed a 40,000SF abandoned mall space located below a call center in downtown Watertown. Washington Street Properties recognized the space's unique potential for small businesses seeking affordable space. In 2013, the company took an innovative approach by collaborating with a group of prospective local tenants to create plans for an activity center. They secured financing through a local bank, completed renovations, and successfully re-opened the mall to the public. The mall is now home to businesses such as a martial arts studio, video gaming lounge, and dance studio. It also houses the local Veterans Outreach Center.

In a second project, Washington Street Properties teamed with Purcell Construction to pursue renovation of the 50,000SF Lincoln Building on Watertown’s Public Square. 2013 accomplishments included stabilization of the property, completion of an environmental assessment, preliminary design plans incorporating a variety of innovative uses and design concepts, and lining up grants and loans. This multi-year project has garnered widespread recognition and public support.

In perhaps its most ambitious and successful project of 2013, Washington Street Properties restored the 48,000SF Solar Building, a six-story, 73-unit apartment building with retail on the ground floor. The property had been severely neglected for many years—it was in deplorable condition and served as a haven for illegal activities. The building was acquired at a foreclosure auction where Washington Street Properties was the only bidder. The property's hidden potential was soon realized—by the end of 2013 the criminals had been evicted, security and fire systems were installed, 45 of the apartment units were refurbished, and the common areas were all renovated. Two of the storefronts were restored and leased. To accelerate the project, no bank financing was used—all of the work was accomplished over a three month span with funds generated through the rest of the Company’s portfolio. The building has now been completely turned around and is fully occupied, providing safe, healthy, and reasonably priced housing for local residents and soldiers serving at nearby Fort Drum.

In 2013 Washington Street Properties also acquired and refurbished 425 Washington Street in Watertown, a vacant building which had once been occupied by Hospice. After renovations were completed, the office space was leased to the local Mental Health Association.

While completing the above referenced projects, Washington Street Properties managed their portfolio at a high level, adhering to their core values of integrity, excellence, value, and innovation. In addition to the numerous jobs created through their projects, the company tripled their staff by adding eight new positions. The New York State Small Business Development Center and the local Downtown Business Association named Washington Street Properties the 2013 Downtown Business of the Year.

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Provide a brief (up to 125 words) biography about the leader of this nominated organization:

Brian Murray is a former executive and management consultant who left the private sector in 2004 to teach entrepreneurship at SUNY Jefferson Community College. In this capacity he mentored hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs, many of whom went on to successfully start their own businesses.

In 2007 Brian Murray launched Washington Street Properties to pursue value creation through the turnaround of under-performing, strategically located properties. He has eschewed the industry’s preoccupation with national tenants and embraced local businesses. With an emphasis on integrity, excellence, value, and innovation Mr. Murray has led his business to success while continuing to give back through his teaching and volunteer efforts. In 2013 he was presented a Certificate of Recognition by State Senator Patty Ritchie for his contributions to the community.