Public hearing set for grant

JOHNSTOWN — The Common Council on Monday set a public hearing for Nov. 20 to discuss a $615,000 state grant application to restore a former city leather mill building for use by Townsend Leather.

The hearing, which the council voted to advertise for, will be conducted at 6 p.m. that day in the second-floor Common Council Chambers at City Hall.

During a budget meeting workshop Monday, the council set the hearing. The resolution states that the hearing is for the public to “discuss and consider” an application to the Empire State Development Corp. The application — under Round 5 of the Restore NY Communities Initiative — seeks funding in the amount of $615,000.

Funding would be used for a proposed project at the former Diana Knitting Mill building, located at 229 N. Perry St. and Grove Street. It is being developed as a mixed-use project by Townsend Leather.

The Townsend Avenue firm, which dyes and produces leather goods for vendors throughout the world, has been working with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth on its expansion project. CRG President and CEO Ronald Peters said it is working on funding.

The city Planning Board on June 6 approved a request by Townsend Leather to renovate the former Diana Knitting building so it can expand and create more than 50 new jobs to start. Townsend officials have said they may wish to start this fall, but much depends on financing.

The Restore New York Communities Initiative provides municipalities with financial assistance for revitalization of commercial and residential properties. The program encourages community development and neighborhood growth through the elimination and redevelopment of blighted structures.

The former Diana mill is a three-parcel, multi-building connected complex that has been empty for more than 15 years.

The project plan is to renovate the Diana complex at the corner of North Perry and Grove streets. The complex includes a 66,000-square-foot building, of which 47,000 square feet is a three-story, former knitting mill; and a 19,000-square-foot, two-story addition built in 1988 with a conveyer system.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at