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Tear it Down or Fix it Up? Town pushing owner of North Country Plaza to secure buildings

The North Country Plaza at the corner of Oswego County route 4 & 11 has been vacant for more than 10 years. (Brett Hall/CNYCentral.)

The North Country Plaza has sat vacant and dormant for more than a decade, and town leaders say they are continuing to push for new development at the property.

The plaza sits at the corner of routes 4 and 11 in the town of Hastings, just north of Central Square. Built in the early 1970s the plaza has 46,795 square feet of store space, according to Oswego County property records. The IGA supermarket, the North Country Department Store and North Country Discount Liquors were staples for years, according to Heather Stevens, a historian in Hastings. However, no business has operated inside the structure after 2004.

A partial roof collapse in the center of the building lead the Town of Hastings Code Enforcement Office to deny occupancy of the building. Documents obtained by CNYCentral.com through a Freedom of Information Law request reveal that occupancy would only again be granted once a licensed engineer submits an updated report on the structure. Mark Bombardo, the code enforcement officer for Hastings said that hasn't yet happened.

"I have been approached by one person who wants to go in there and I said, 'you must hire and engineer first'," Bombardo said.

Standing on the edge of the property, the blight is evident. Weeds cover the extensive parking lot, the center of building remains a steel frame, following the roof collapse, and graffiti litters much of the structure.

"Just remembering what it was and driving by everyday, it's tough to see," Rick Nellis said. Nellis was hired at the IGA in 1978 to work in the produce department and stayed for nearly two decades. "This place was thriving, it was packed [with cars in the parking lot] right down to the road."

The plaza is owned by North Country Plaza Inc, based in Lockport, NY. Public documents list Glen Miller as the building's owner, and president of Robert Miller Construction Inc. Both the construction company and North Country Plaza Inc. share the same address.

Numerous calls placed to Robert Miller Construction and Glen Miller for comment on the future the North Country Plaza, went unanswered.

"It's definitely an eyesore, we know it's an eyesore," Town Supervisor Tony Bush, R-Hastings, said. "The town doesn't have provisions to just go do demolitions on people's property. It's not in the town laws to do that."

Other municipalities have tighter code laws, according to Bush, however, CNYCentral.com brought to Bush's attention that one New York State code requirement wasn't being followed. New York State requires all vacant structures be secured. Currently there are large entryways making the North Country Plaza is accessible to anyone.

"[The Town Board] has since been talking about a few things we could do or should be doing," Bush said. "We are currently in discussions with the owner."

"Tear it down and start over," Nellis said, "Plaza like this, it could survive but you have to find someone that wants to work hard and invest a lot of money."

Previously, CBS5 asked the question of Syracuse's AME Zion Church, Salina's Club 37, City of Oneida's Hotel Oneida, Van Buren's Quaker Steak & Lube, Oswego's 1850 House and Mattydale's Cinema North, and even saw action.

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