Ambitious restoration of 3 Main Street buildings in Lyndonville nearly complete

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2022 at 8:37 am

Robert Smith overcomes obstacles to downtown revitalization with 3 storefronts, 4 hotel rooms

Photos by Tom Rivers: Robert Smith is pleased with the progress with renovating three Main Street buildings behind him in Lyndonville. He is seeking tenants for the storefronts, and expects four hotel rooms to be ready in April.

LYNDONVILLE – Robert Smith sees lots of potential in his hometown. The Lyndonville native now lives in Palm Springs, Calif., where he has worked as a financial advisor for nearly four decades.

But he comes home often to see family and friends, and to check up on a construction project that he hopes will add to Lyndonville’s quality of life. After more than three years of construction, three of Lyndonville’s Main Street buildings are nearly ready for tenants, and four hotel rooms will be available in the spring.

Smith took on the project, giving the three buildings a major transformation. The buildings don’t have tenants yet, but Smith sees many possibilities for the spaces – from cafes, restaurants, retail businesses, receptions for parties and events, shared work space and a certified kitchen that can be rented out, just to name a few options.

This 1,400-square-foot space looks much different than when it was a liquor store years ago.

“There are a lot of opportunities,” Smith said on Saturday, giving a tour of the nearly finished first floors. “It’s an open footprint. We’re really ready to start entertaining tenants.”

He welcomed people interested in the space to reach out to him at 760-408-8686.

Smith hosted a group on Saturday morning to breakfast and coffee before they went out and set more than 400 wreaths on veterans’ graves. On Sunday he had an appreciation gathering for the contractors who have worked on the project.

Mike Preston & Son Construction in Lyndonville served as general contractor on the Webber Building at 29 South Main St. Papilia and Sons, led by Ferdinando Papalia, did the bulk of the work as general contractor on the two other buildings.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Here is how the building looked in 2018 before the construction started.

The Webber site has about 2,200 square feet of space on the first floor. The next two buildings have about 1,400 square feet in the former liquor store and about 1,500 square feet in the former sweet shop. The site also has outdoor patio space after the former Pennysaver building had to be knocked down when it’s roof caved in in February 2020 due to heavy snow and ice.

Smith said there could be pop-up vendors as tenants who may only need a small amount of room.

John Belson, the Lyndonville mayor, praised Smith for seeing the project through many challenges, including Covid restrictions and supply chain shortages that slowed down construction.

“It’s been trials and tribulations,” Belson said. “It’s been a huge undertaking.”

Some of community members were welcomed inside the Webber building on Saturday. Steve Goodrich, second from left, and Scott Goetze, both members of the American Legion in Lyndonville, spoke to a group on Saturday morning before they went to place wreaths on 441 veterans’ graves. Robert Smith, back left, invited the group inside the newly renovated Webber Hotel/Cafe on Main Street. Jim Simon, Yates town supervisor, is at right.

Smith adapted his overall plan when the Pennysaver building had to be taken down.

“It’s amazing,” Belson said about the repurposed buildings. “Hopefully it will help bring Lyndonville back. Having it come to fruition is good for the town, village and everybody.”

The village was able to help Smith secure a state grant that contributed about $400,000 towards the project.

The buildings have a fresh and modern look, with new plumbing, HVAC and drywall.

Darlene Hartway, one of the owners of Sourced Market & Eatery in Medina, is managing the certified kitchen at the Webber building. She plans to offer cooking classes. She said the kitchen can be renting out by others.

Smith plans a local advertising campaign when the hotel rooms are ready, likely in April. He sees a need for places to stay in Lyndonville with White Birch hosting many weddings and events on Route 63. There are also fishermen and many others who come to the community, including drivers for the Amish and Mennonite communities.

Robert Smith sees lots of potential for Lyndonville’s Main Street with three storefronts nearly ready.