A blighted vacant parcel in the heart of downtown Binghamton could soon be brought back to life if a former mayor's plans become reality.

A restaurant featuring a "beer garden" is planned for the site at 138-140 Washington Street.

The spot has been empty for decades after a New Year's Eve fire tore through the popular Royal Lounge and a neighboring adult bookstore. No one was hurt in the blaze that erupted on December 31, 1999.

Former mayor Richard David is proposing opening a new business in what would be a prefabricated two-story structure with about 2,000 square feet of space. He has advised city officials he wants to start construction as quickly as possible.

Former Binghamton mayor Richard David is planning to open a tavern and restaurant in a new building on this lot at 138-140 Washington Street. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Former Binghamton mayor Richard David is planning to open a tavern and restaurant in a new building on this lot at 138-140 Washington Street. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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David acquired the Washington Street site for $50,000 in July 2009, a few years before he took office as mayor.

David was joined by Kristopher Kasmarcik and Mikaila Fargnoli Tuesday at meetings of the Commission on Architecture and Urban Design and the city planning commission.

Kasmarcik and Fargnoli are expected to oversee day-to-day operations of the business.

David said "our timeline is pretty aggressive." He indicated he hoped site work could begin within four to six weeks. He said the target date for opening is June.

The former mayor said the business would be open year-round but he's looking forward to taking advantage of the warmer weather for outdoor seating.

Some of the trash in a lot at 140 Washington Street on February 7, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Some of the trash in a lot at 140 Washington Street on February 7, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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David said he had wanted to develop the Washington Street property but he was precluded from doing so while he was mayor. He said that now that he's not the mayor, "I'd like to turn my focus and attention to redeveloping some of the properties that I own in the city."

David said crushed stone was brought in to fill the vacant lot several years ago. Although a tall wood fence blocks the view of the site from Washington Street, the property remains accessible from the east side. A section of the empty lot is cluttered with an assortment of trash.

The Commission on Architecture and Urban Design has given its approval for the project. The planning commission is expected to hold a public hearing on the project at a special meeting later this month.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com or (607) 545-2250. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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