Academy Place is being redeveloped by Mark Purcell, President of Purcell Construction Corp. Mark Purcell has worked in construction and real estate development for over 35 years. Purcell Construction is a family owned business that extends from New York to Virginia with corporate offices in Watertown, NY. The company develops commercial and residential projects throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
In recent years, Purcell Construction has refocused on residential real estate development, adding several mid-rise residential communities to its portfolio. One of Mark’s passions is the historic rehabilitation of properties, and he has been involved with most of the major restoration projects in downtown Watertown over the past 20 years.
Purcell typically holds its real estate investments for the long term, so proper planning, thoughtful details, & amenities, and unique designs are critically important. Equally important is providing residents with a quality living experience. To attain this goal, Purcell Construction has invited Riedman Companies to provide the day-to-day management of Academy Place in order to meet the needs of our residents. Riedman Companies shares a similar philosophy and appreciation for quality, and is known for projects that are well planned, economically sound, and a positive influence on the communities in which they are located.
The current structure known as Academy Place, formerly Corning Free Academy, was built in 1923, on the north side of West Third Street at the corner of Pine Street. Designed by prominent architect Howard Greenley, Corning Free Academy was built in the classical Romanesque Revival style. It features elaborate terra cotta, which was produced locally by the Corning Brick and Terra Cotta and Tile Company. A sculptured relief above the main entrance was designed by New York sculptor Leo Lentelli. Decorative Aurene glass shades were produced by Corning Glass works under the direction of Frederick Carder, a prominent glass designer.
Purcell Construction began taking steps to preserve the Corning Free Academy building in 2013. The school board considered converting it into district offices, however Mark Purcell’s plan for converting the building into apartments was more appealing to the school board and community, and ensures the historical features of the building will be preserved.
"Once you walk in that front door you realize it's a special building," Mr. Purcell said. "What we didn't realize at first was how important this building was to the Southside neighborhood and to the City of Corning. We hope what we've done lives up to everyone's expectations, and we’re happy to be part of preserving the heritage of this community.” Historic Architectural services for the project were provided by local architect Elise-Johnson Schmidt and her team at Johnson-Schmidt Associates, Corning.