OGDENSBURG — Robert Noble, an Ogdensburg native and business owner, has a vision for the former Hackett’s building on Pickering Street.
That vision becomes with the city of Ogdensburg receiving a grant from the Restore New York Communities Initiative to rehabilitate the former Hackett’s Hardware store.
Mr. Noble grew up in Ogdensburg and eventually moved to Vermont where he bought his first store, Noble Ace Hardware. Today, Mr. Noble owns four Noble Ace Hardware Stores throughout New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Soon, Ogdensburg will be added to that list.
“I never really saw the risk that it was but knew that I wanted to be an owner and meet the challenge of creating a meaningful business,” said Mr. Noble. “By the grace of God, it was successful even though Home Depot opened a store at the same time. Then I happened upon new opportunities to branch out with my brother, Ken.”
At a city council meeting in August, Mr. Noble pitched his idea to restore and rehabilitate the former Hackett’s building, 1223 Pickering St., back into a department store. At the following meeting, the council unanimously passed a resolution to apply for $1.2 million in funding for the project through round 6 of the Restore New York Communities Initiative, which was ultimately successful when the city was awarded a grant on Dec. 20.
“We determined over the past year that it would require at least $1.3 million to restore and update the main building for public use,” said Mr. Noble. “The larger items will be a sprinkler system, flooring, lighting, bathrooms, parking lot improvements, ceiling, and interior wall repair. Without the NY Restore grant, this project would be a bridge too far.”
The old Hackett’s building currently houses the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad (OVRS) but has 36,000 square feet of vacant space that Mr. Noble wants to transform into something much like what it used to be.
“I have admired and envied the Hackett’s store for years,” said Mr. Noble. “They had a great hardware store with a much larger diversity of products which included clothing, sporting goods and equipment, gifts, and bistro. In their heyday, they were considered the most successful True Value store in the country.”
Mr. Noble plans to sell many of the same goods that Hackett’s used to sell including hardware, rental equipment, outdoor living and cooking, sporting, hunting, camping and fishing goods and equipment, clothing, gifts, pet equipment and food, and even restore the bistro that once stood in the building.
“On the outside, there will be very little change,” said Mr. Noble. “The inside, however, will be marvelous much like the Hackett’s of old.”
It is Mr. Noble’s hope that the store would bring new, competitively priced products and services back into the community as well as make Ogdensburg a better place to live.
“What an opportunity to restore it into a first class shopping experience which builds on community relations, provides new, satisfying, long-term, good paying employment,” said Mr. Noble. “I have a vision of a store the community will support and be proud of that will draw people to Ogdensburg as opposed to folks driving 45 to 90 minutes to shop in other communities.”
Part of the project also includes Mr. Noble buying the building from OVRS which will pay off a $1.2 million loan owed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office and lease OVRS the space it now uses.
“It will provide significant and additional funds to be used for the equipment and training they require without having to make loan payments as they have in the past,” said Mr. Noble. “It will remove a burden so they can put all their focus and energy towards the services they provide for the community. They will have a secure and locked tight lease for as long as they desire.”
Mr. Noble stated that plans to begin restoration will be determined in the next few months but his goal has always been to have a grand opening by Nov. 1.
“The Ogdensburg market is fertile for this type of store at this time given the changes over the last two decades,” said Mr. Noble. “More than that, I believe with the contacts and support of many in the community we will be able to staff the store with great, knowledgeable, engaging people.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Noble is eager to begin the project and excited for his community to celebrate a hometown hardware store.
“Over the last 12 to 15 years, locally owned stores have shuttered up in Ogdensburg leaving just national chains in their place,” said Mr. Noble. “I think the Ogdensburg area would celebrate a hometown hardware store and more.”