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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Top Stories > Business

Abandoned building gets new life

Jan 11, 2021

By Isabel Braverman - staff writer

By: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
COCHECTON -- If you've driven down Route 97 recently you may have noticed an old, brick structure that has suddenly appeared from nowhere.
Actually, the building isn't new at all; it's been around since 1879. Known as the Cochecton Pump Station, it was part of America's first long-distance oil pipeline, which connected Olean, NY to Bayonne, NJ and was owned by Standard Oil.
The pipeline featured 11 pumping stations, spaced about 28 miles apart, and carried over 50,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
But in 1925, the Cochecton Pump Station and the rest of the pipeline were abandoned. The buildings were knocked down, except for the pump house itself, which still stands among weeds and brush along Route 97 near the intersection with County Road 116.

Known as a secret place that locals explored, now those weeds and brush have been cleared and the brick building will be restored to stand strong once again.
Dave Lieber and his partner Jin Zhang purchased the property this past summer and have plans to turn it into a mix of retail and food businesses.
The first step: stabilizing the building.
The structure still has walls but there is no roof, nor any windows, and it has practically been taken over by nature, with roots winding their way around and bursting through the bricks.
Lieber is working with a mason and structural engineer to stabilize the building and make it safe. Then they need to fill the inside and build it out.
“We're just going to let it have a ruinous quality, maintain the way it looks now but make it safe and enjoyable,” Lieber said.
Working with business partners and investors, they hope to create a pop-up event this summer.
And Lieber is no stranger to running a successful pop-up business. Over the summer he and Zhang created Dave's Backyard Skewers, in which they sold Chinese-inspired barbecue skewers from their backyard, along with lemonade, hot dogs and French fries.
The pop-up stand was a hit, especially given the safe nature of dining outdoors with lots of space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Realizing the grueling work of the restaurant business, Lieber says he won't be doing the skewers again this summer, but was happy for the experience.
“I had one of the best summers in my life. It was awesome meeting people; I have a community now,” he said.
He'll expand on that sense of community by building a coffee shop next to the Pump House, which will be opening soon.
“We're trying to do something that's going to bring people to the area,” Lieber said. “Route 97 is the big thing up here, so the idea is if we have a destination then it can benefit the local businesses.”
Contributed photo by Jin Zhang
This building on Route 97 in Cochecton was built in 1879 and was used as a pump station for an oil pipeline. Now under new ownership, the building will be restored and brought back to life.

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