Tear it Down or Fix it Up? "Well known local eatery" under contract to buy old Red Barn

Hafner's Red Barn has stood along Buckley Road in Clay for nearly half a century. However, the Country Store known as a go-to place for Christmas, could soon fall to new development. (Brett Hall/CNYCentral)

Hafner's Red Barn, a longtime local landmark in Central New York, could soon fall to new development.

For nearly 40 years, the Hafner Red Barn and Country Store kept things "like it used to be." The phrase was not only their longtime jingle, but often their products resembled hard to find antiques. Many longtime Central New Yorker's recall being drawn in by the smell of holly berry, the warmth of the giant fireplace and the dozens upon dozens of twinkling Christmas trees.

"A lot of families in Central New York have fond memories of Gary Hafner's Red Barn especially around the holidays," Bill Camperlino, managing member of Red Barn Country LLC, the owner of the property. "They did a wonderful job decorating it. It was a focal point of CNY for many many years."

Camperlino formed Red Barn Country LLC with longtime Red Barn operator Gary Hafner in 2009, and since then has been marketing the property for redevelopment. Hafner closed the barn the previous year. Hafner declined to be interviewed for this story.

"We always had the hope that someone would come along, and put it back to its original use," Camperlino said. Several interested parties had ideas to use the space, however nothing ever materialized according to Camperlino.

Time has taken its toll on the former barn. It's iconic red paint has faded, signage has fallen to the roof bellow and vandals have broken in several times. Occupancy has been prohibited to the main red barn building by Clay codes, and dozens of code violations have piled up over the years. Pressure is mounting as surrounding land, formerly farmed by Gary Hafner, has recently been redeveloped into single family homes.

"The neighbors certainly want something done on this site to clean it up," Camperlino said.

Bridgeway reality, Camperlino and Hafner's broker, recently announced 3 acres of the former Red Barn property is under contract with "a well known local eatery." While the identity of the buyer was not disclosed, Camperlino hopes the process moves along quickly.

"The goal is to have the building under construction by this summer," Camperlino said. "In doing that we will do the site work and we will actually have to tear the building(s) down."

It appears a place based on keeping things "like it used to be" isn't itself immune to change.

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