Transforming Downtown Watertown: The Howland’s Building as a Prime Convention Center Site

Transforming Downtown Watertown: The Howland’s Building as a Prime Convention Center Site

In the heart of Watertown, New York, the old Howland’s building on Court Street, surrounded by a burgeoning mini mall and potential new hotel developments, stands as a beacon of opportunity for urban revitalization. As Watertown embraces a future where its historic charm intersects with modern necessity, reimagining the Howland’s building as a convention and conference center could be a pivotal moment for the city’s downtown core. Here are compelling reasons why this initiative not only makes sense but could also serve as a cornerstone for Watertown’s economic and cultural resurgence:

  1. Strategic Location: Nestled in downtown Watertown, the Howland’s building benefits from its proximity to key developments such as the renovated mini mall next door and the proposed hotel across the street. This central location makes it easily accessible and highly visible, factors critical for any major convention center aiming to draw both local and out-of-town visitors.
  2. Enhancement of Economic Viability: By converting the Howland’s building into a convention center, Watertown could see a significant boost in its local economy. Conferences and events bring in attendees who spend on accommodations, dining, and shopping, benefiting local businesses and increasing municipal revenue through taxes and fees. This influx of visitors supports and sustains a vibrant urban center.
  3. Preservation Meets Innovation: Utilizing the existing structure of the Howland’s building preserves a piece of Watertown’s architectural heritage while adapting it for modern use. This approach not only saves on the costs associated with new construction but also maintains a historical narrative that can be a unique selling point for the convention center.
  4. Synergy with Local Development: The proposed hotel and the mini mall create a synergistic effect where each component enhances the others’ value and utility. Guests at the convention center would have immediate access to lodging and retail, making their stay convenient and enjoyable, thereby increasing the likelihood of return visits.
  5. Maximizing Riverfront Views: Expanding the Howland’s building towards the back to overlook the Black River would offer exceptional views, making it a picturesque venue for events. The beauty of the riverfront can provide a relaxing and appealing backdrop, significantly enhancing the guest experience.
  6. Sustainable Urban Growth: Choosing a downtown location for the convention center promotes sustainable urban growth by revitalizing existing infrastructure rather than expanding into undeveloped areas. This choice helps prevent urban sprawl, reduces transportation emissions (as visitors can potentially walk to other downtown attractions), and revitalizes underused urban spaces.

By transforming the Howland’s building into a convention and conference center, Watertown can effectively merge its rich history with a forward-looking vision for growth and development. This initiative would not only reinvigorate the downtown area but also create a multifaceted venue capable of hosting a wide range of events, from business conferences to cultural gatherings, all while showcasing the scenic beauty of the Black River.

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