Little Falls has applied for a Small Cities Grant that, if approved, would provide $650,000 to the city to use on West Main Street and some businesses on the south side of the city, Mayor Bob Peters said.
Carolyn Brundige of Amsterdam is an antiques dealer who shops monthly along the businesses at Canal Place in search of bargains.
“I’m always looking for merchandise here,” she said. “When I come here, I shop along Canal Place and eat at the Ann Street Deli.”
A passageway to Benton’s Landing, Lock 17 and the hydroelectric plant, the bridge has long been red-flagged by the state Department of Transportation.
“There’s several millions of dollars available, and we’re in the process of getting in touch with Sen. (James) Seward to try to obtain the funding necessary to bring it up to par,” Peters said. “My main concern is that when water rises in the canal, it’s only about 10 feet below the bridge. It also needs paving.”
Peters said the bridge contains gas lines for National Grid, as well as city water and sewer lines.
“It’s a pretty important area,” he said.
And that’s exactly what city officials and Canal Place businesses want to hear. Home to some of the oldest structures in the city, businesses — from restaurants and shops to a theater and spa — are continuing to pop up within the tiny district that sits beside the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River.
The city has applied for a Small Cities Grant that, if approved, would provide $650,000 to the city to use on West Main Street and some businesses on the south side of the city, Mayor Bob Peters said.
“We’re working on getting long-needed funding for that part of the city,” Peters said. “If we can go forward with the plans, it’ll be a big plus. … If we get the grant, places like Canal Side Inn, Ole Sal’s Ice Cream and the Stone Mill will benefit.”
The city has embraced the historic Canal Place District as an important part of its heritage, Peters said. And officials are trying to spread the word about all they have to offer.
“The Mill has brought people to town that would not normally be here,” said Robin Campbell, owner of Piccolo Café on Ann Street. “The same goes for the Vincents at the Antique Center. Between the two buildings, they’re all very community-oriented. They want to see the community flourish and that’s what we need here – business owners who want to take on that concept.”
Randy Holdredge of West Burlington said he visits Canal Place often because of its unique variety of shopping venues.
As he recently browsed antiques in the Stone Mill, he said, “There are few quality antiques places around anymore, and we have two right here that are consistently good.”
The Stone Mill
Erected in 1839 and formerly a textile mill, the Stone Mill is now home to antiques dealers, a gift shop, spa facilities and a theater.
David Taylor and Richard Vogt purchased the 410 S. Ann St. building in 2005 and opened Stone Mill Antiques that same year. Originally, they planned to work solely on the first floor.
But as dealers filled the antiques store, ideas for the second and third floors of the building emerged.
“We shopped for grants and other sources of funding,” Taylor said. “The same winter we opened up, we had an architect design the second floor and came up with seven business suites.”
The building now features a hair salon, nail and waxing services, laser skincare and massage, tanning facilities, a fitness center and herbal body wraps. It also includes the Black Box Theatre, which seats 50.
“I love the idea that it’s become a full-service building,” business owner Terry Darling of Florentena Salon said. “Already, it’s got so many avenues to choose from.”
Darling, whose business was the first of several on the second floor, said he enjoyed the location.
“It’s beautiful down here,” he said. “There are so many things to do, and it’s still a secret to many people.”
Taylor and Vogt now hope to add guest accommodations on the third floor of the building with nine overnight rooms and a conference room. The task will cost in excess of $300,000 and is a four-month project.
A ‘charming city’
Richard Enders of Clinton, host of “Mohawk Valley Living” as well as a lawyer and playwright, sees Little Falls as a nearby place to get away.
“To me,” he said, “it’s one of the most charming little cities in the Northeast. We have featured Little Falls on ‘Mohawk Valley Living’ several times.”
Enders enjoys shopping at Canal Place, and even participates in some of the events in the Black Box Theatre.
“The theater has a unique feel to it,” he said. “The intimacy of the theater gives a performer the feeling that he or she is performing in an off-Broadway theater. Everything about it is ideal — the size, the lighting, the acoustics and the comfortable seating. We’re fortunate to have the likes of David and Richard. In addition to their many other endeavors, they have brought a little bit of New York City to Little Falls.”
The theater opened a year ago and is used for plays, shows and meetings. During shows, customers are often invited to BYOB – bring your own bottle – and enjoy hors d’oeuvres.
“We’re excited about the response the theater has received already without much promoting,” Taylor said. “People come from Albany and Syracuse because they love entertainment.”
A lot to offer
Canal Place was added to the state and national registries of historic places in the spring.
“There’s a variety of things here, and it’s nice to come shop for the day and grab a bit to eat at one of the restaurants,” Fort Plain resident Jennifer Kennedy said.
Linda and Alan Vincent, who own the nearby 1855 paper mill that houses the Little Falls Antique Center, said they enjoy their location in the only city in Herkimer County.
“People can come to this area and spend the day,” Alan Vincent said. “They can visit Moss Island, Lock 17, the Erie Canal, Benton’s Landing and some of the great places to eat around here.”