Roof repair seen as key to Goss renovation

This summer and fall will be busy ones for renovating the Goss Opera House.

According to Missy Sinner, executive director of the non-profit Friends of the Goss Foundation, several projects will soon be underway at the historic 130-year-old building in downtown Watertown.

Chief among those, and perhaps most notable to the public, is an $855,000 roof renovation. Sinner said the project is expected to start sometime between mid-July and mid-August and end between mid-October to mid-November.

“If it isn’t done, the building wouldn’t be able to sustain. It’s an absolute necessity that we fix it,” Sinner said Wednesday, adding the current roof poses no immediate danger.

In addition to fixing the roof’s structural deficiencies, Sinner said the renovation will add insulation, thereby hopefully decreasing the building’s utility bills.

“It is currently not insulated properly. We are trying to make the building as energy efficient as possible,” she said.

Sinner said FoG is also looking at other ways to reduce utility bills.

“Currently our utilities are sky-high. We’re doing an energy audit on the building. What we’re doing is kind of seeing where our problems lie and where we are losing energy out of the building in order to get the utilities a little bit more manageable,” she said.

In addition to the roof, Sinner said the bank building windows will be replaced to provide better insulation.

“I’m thinking in the next month or so you’ll kind of see some action with that,” she said.

Meanwhile, some action happened Wednesday night as the FoG launched its website

Website visitors can get an overview of the Goss renovation plans as well as the building’s history. Visitors can also donate to the capital campaign that is expected to ramp up shortly under the “Get Involved” tab.

A new logo has also been unveiled.

Ultimately, Sinner’s vision is for the Goss building to have sustainable retail operations and a restaurant. Any potential restaurant would be mostly independent of other Goss operations.

“They would operate their own restaurant and company,” Sinner said.

Although the building is not expected to be fully operational until next spring, Sinner said the building is currently seeing its share of business. That includes the clothing store Coco & Finn, which has been temporarily relocated from its building along U.S. Highway 212 due to the highway’s reconstruction.

Sinner said she’s also been renting out office space.

The Goss’ third floor will see operations begin in September for Grace Dance Academy.

“We definitely got some action going on as far as the office and retail space. I’m getting call after call for those,” Sinner said. “That’s really exciting to see people have interest in being in the Goss.”

Sinner said FoG is exploring adding some features to make the Goss an even greater attraction.

“We’d like to create a space people really enjoy spending a lot of time in,” she said.

Sinner said the goal is to have the Goss fully operational by March. She holds out cautious optimism for the building to be functional enough to hold an event such as a New Year’s Eve party.

Whenever the building opens, Sinner indicated that day will be a celebratory one for downtown Watertown.

“I personally feel the Goss is the engine of downtown. It’s such a massive building right in the heart of downtown. I feel that the sooner we get this up and going and operating in a consistent manner, the better it will be for all of downtown,” she said.