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OWD sold: Tupper Lake mayor says developers plan housing, business at former factory

The former Oval Wood Dish factory on Demars Boulevard in Tupper Lake is seen in December 2019. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The former Oval Wood Dish factory on Demars Boulevard has been sold to a development company that plans to convert the 110,000-square-foot building into mixed-income housing and business.

For years the building has sat empty, except for boats and cars people lease space to store inside and at one point a charity thrift shop. The sale of the building has been in the works for years but was finalized last Tuesday, April 13. Norman Bobrow, of Manhattan sold the property to Syracuse-based Lahinch Group, according to Tupper Lake village Mayor Paul Maroun.

“This is probably one of the more exciting things to happen in Tupper Lake in many years,” Maroun said. “(The building) is sort of a blight on the community between uptown and downtown.”

It once was the home of the Oval Wood Dish company, which brought jobs and industry to Tupper Lake when it moved its manufacturing here from Michigan in 1917. It closed in 1964.

OWD manufactured not only oval wooden dishes but also various types of wooden products including clothespins, bowling pins, tongue depressors, furniture pieces, commercial veneer, hardwood flooring, popsicle sticks and the popular wooden spoons that came with cups of ice cream. From 2003 to 2008 Jarden Plastics Solutions Inc. used the factory to make plastic items such as eating utensils and poker chips before closing.

Maroun said the developers plan to build “blended housing” on one side. These mixed-income apartments make the project eligible for state tax credits.

“We need additional housing,” Maroun said. “You can’t get an apartment in Tupper Lake. It’s very difficult.”

More expensive housing is planned in other portions of the property.

Maroun hopes people who are getting older and who may not want to maintain a house anymore will move into the pricier units, freeing up their houses to be sold on the market.

Maroun said he does not believe the building will be torn down, saying the walls are solid concrete and structurally sound. He has faith in Lahinch Group, which in 2020 purchased the former Camp Beattie property in Long Lake and is operating it as the Lahinch Lodge.

“They’re young. They’re aggressive. They know what they’re doing,” Maroun said.

In September 2020, the New York State Board of Historic Preservation named the factory as one of 18 sites recommended for the state and national Registers of Historic Places. Such a listing could limit development but also make the owners eligible for grants and tax credits.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article accidentally said a charity gift shop once occupied the factory; it was a charity thrift shop. The Enterprise regrets the error.)

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