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You are here The Red Mill Inn News 2005 News 2005  Story

Mill could become inn

By Tom Leo, Staff writer
 
June 16, 2005
Mill could become inn

 

The new owners of the former Mercer Mill say Jim Orlando's plan for an upscale inn and conference center on Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville was unique and grand.

But they prefer a scaled-down version.

Jay Bernhardt and Jake McKenna, who purchased the 180-year-old building from Orlando and partner Tom Potter in May for $700,000, say they'll concentrate on the inn concept, with no banquet facilities, restaurant or bar.

"We think the village has a lot of fine restaurants that already exist. We think there are very fine banquet facilities that already exist," McKenna said as he addressed the village board during a recent meeting.

"What we would like to do is create a project that compliments the businesses that are already here, and not compete with them. I think that could be very detrimental to the village as a whole."

Bernhardt is a developer from Richfield Springs and the owner of JGB Enterprises, a defense contractor that mainly sells hoses to the federal government. McKenna, who is from Van Buren, is a partner in Parsons-McKenna Construction Co. in Liverpool.

The partners said their first concern is stabilizing the foundation of the building. They plan to begin large-scale work on the building by Aug. 1.

The developers say they'll stick to the original design of the building, restoring as much of it as possible to what it looked like in the 1800s and early 1900s. The building was home to the last remaining mill in the village.

They plan to include a small museum or display area, with old photos, to maintain some of the building's history.

McKenna said the inn will have 30 to 32 rooms and have hospitality and meetings rooms they can offer to local businesses. The new owners want to work with the village to try to schedule more weekday events on Paper Mill Island, such as trade shows, antique shows and art shows.

"The weekends are already busy," McKenna said. "We think we'll do well on the weekends but we'd like to concentrate on bringing activity into the village Monday through Friday. We think there's a need for that here."

"This is exciting," Trustee Anthony Saraceni said.

It was Saraceni who put Orlando in touch with Bernhardt in February.

Bernhardt, who has restored several old buildings in Richfield Springs, is the majority owner. McKenna is the minority owner and contractor. McKenna's firm built the 124-room Candlewood Suites on South Bay Road in North Syracuse.

Trustee Howard Tupper thanked the new owners for coming to the village's rescue. There were rumors new owners would demolish the mill and turn it into a parking lot.

"That just wouldn't have been right," McKenna said.

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