ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) — The former Star Gazette building in Downtown Elmira, which has seen a recent tick in community attention after a break-in and talks of it becoming a boutique hotel, has received state funding as part of a $5.1 million grant for community development across the state.

Elmira Downtown Development, Inc. will receive $354,000 out of a total of $5.1 million in taxpayer funds to assist in the removal of asbestos inside the Star Gazette building located at 201 Baldwin St.

Following a break-in on Oct. 27 where five people went inside the building to steal copper, officials with Southern Tier Economic Growth said that works are being done behind the scenes to move forward in revitalizing the building to possibly be a boutique hotel or something else.

Cleaning out asbestos from the building would have to be done within 24 months once work starts. Jill Koski, Vice President of Southern Tier Economic Growth, told 18 News that the 24-month window is to make sure the money is being used as intended by the grant.

It’s worth noting that the $354,000 is only a portion of the cost to clear out the asbestos from the building, with Koski saying that the total price is “significantly more” than the money awarded in the grant, it’s unknown at this time the true price of the removal and where the remaining funds will come from.

The funding announced on Friday, Nov. 17 comes from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal and is the 13th round of funding for the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. The initiative was made to help municipalities and nonprofit organizations across New York maintain and revitalize main streets and strengthen local economies.

“This $5 million in funding will strengthen on-the-ground initiatives, further economic development, generate more employment opportunities, and create new housing options,” said RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commission of Homes and Community Renewal.

The building currently sits empty after the paper vacated it in 2015, and has gone through a series of owners ever since. In 2020, the building was sold for $210,000 with new owners planning to turn the building into a gallery space for artists, but nothing came of it. The most recent owner, Mark Tiedemann, purchased the structure in November of 2022 for $190,000. 18 News has reached out for comment about the grant funding and asbestos removal project inside the building, but we’ve yet to hear back.