Cellect LLC CEO Scott Smith said Tuesday he’s excited to get started on a demolition project expected to make room for the St. Johnsville company’s expansion into the medical supply field.
The western Montgomery County factory will receive $2.08 million from the state’s Restore NY grant program, officials announced Tuesday. The money was among four grants totaling approximately $5.6 million for Montgomery, Fulton and Schoharie counties.
Other grants announced were:
* $2.5 million to Amsterdam to further redevelop the former Mohasco Mills and adjacent Esquire Novelty building site on Forest Avenue.
* $534,000 to Gloversville to demolish a condemned downtown church.
* $500,000 to Sharon Springs to help a private developer to create condominiums on a historic property that was once part of a spa hotel.
The state’s Restore NY program is designed to encourage economic development and neighborhood growth by providing money to municipalities for the revitalization of commercial and residential properties.
Cellect LLC currently manufactures plastic foam for the automotive and sports industries at its New Street factory in the village, but part of the factory is so old it’s been condemned.
Smith said the company, which employs about 90 people now, uses approximately 160,000 square feet of the 200,000-square-foot facility, with the remaining portion unusable.
“I would like to start tearing down this building this afternoon if I could,” Smith said.
Work at the company, one of the biggest employers in St. Johnsville, came to a standstill when the factory, situated adjacent to the Mohawk River, was inundated with floodwaters in June 2006. But, just under a year later, the company was back to full staff and again moving toward its goal of expansion.
Cellect has been moving into the medical field, which also uses plastic foam products, and the grant is expected to help the company expand, leading to between 50 and 75 additional jobs in the next three years, Smith said. The company’s current payroll of about $3 million would expand to about $5 million, Smith said.
Smith said a portion of the facility has to be revamped to accommodate cleaner manufacturing standards for products used in medical applications.
“This is a great project,” Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose said. “Any time you can add manufacturing jobs to a small village like St. Johnsville, it’s real positive.”
According to Amsterdam grant writing consultant Nick Zabawsky, the city applied for its grant in September despite the lack of response from developers interested in redeveloping the former Mohasco Mill site and adjacent Esquire Novelty building.
“There is definitely some irony in this situation,” Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, said. “We went out looking for a developer saying that we were applying for a $2.5 million grant; no one came forward, and now we have the grant.”
Wills is hopeful that the city will be able to interest a developer now that the money is in hand.
Zabawsky said the city has invested about $4 million already since acquiring the abandoned 22-acre site in 1990. Zabawsky said the city is looking for a developer to invest about $11 million into the site to rehabilitate the Esquire Novelty building into a mixed-use center with commercial and retail stores and loft-style apartments. The rest of the site, which is located along the Chuctanunda Creek, could be developed into a passive-use park.
Wills said the top floors of the Esquire Novelty building have great views of the valley, but much of the building is in poor shape. He said a developer would probably tear it down and start from scratch.
Zabawsky said the old building will require further cleanup of asbestos. The site is in the Amsterdam-Florida-Glen Empire Zone, which would entitle any developer to state tax benefits.
In Gloversville, a $534,000 grant will pay to demolish the massive and crumbling First Baptist Church on South Main Street .
Mayor Tim Hughes was ecstatic and relieved after hearing the announcement. “Thank God,” he said, noting that the church is in such disrepair that it could collapse and cause what he called a catastrophe.
Hughes said he is optimistic that the church can be removed by the end of the summer. “Let’s get that thing down and start moving forward,” Hughes said.
Hughes said he remains confident that if the city can remove the church, local apartment developers John and Susan Casey will go forward with plans to build a 45-unit apartment complex on the site.
Susan Casey said she and her husband are prepared to build the complex if the city succeeds in preparing the site, which is adjacent to one of a number of Casey-owned properties on South Main Street.
The city’s grant consultant, Zabawsky of Amsterdam, who also prepared Amsterdam’s successful $2.5 million Restore NY grant application, said the Gloversville demolition is expected to cost about $700,000. That estimate includes asbestos abatement.
The church has been empty since 1998, was declared a dangerous building in 2002 and pieces of the structure have fallen to the ground since then. Zabawsky said the roof has been breached in several places and the masonry in some areas, including the steeple, is crumbling. It would be a disaster, he said, if the steeple ever toppled.
Casey said there is a market for the proposed apartments. She said a proposed three-story complex will cost between $2 million and $3 million. She said in a recent interview that she has financing commitments for $2 million.
Susan Casey said Tuesday she and her husband are currently busy creating 13 apartments in the former Catholic War Veterans Hall.
She said the apartments for middle-income residents and the elderly fill a void in the local rental market. She said people trying to move to such places as Trackside Homes in Johnstown are on a waiting list.
In Sharon Springs, the $500,000 Restore NY grant is aimed at helping a private developer turn a historic cottage that was once part of the former Pavilion Hotel into condominiums, according to state and local officials.
The state grant is not directly part of an estimated $33 million project envisioned by the mostly Korean investment group, Sharon Springs Inc., that proposes to redevelop the sulphur water spas that made the village famous in the mid-19th century, said Mayor Omer Cousineau. Although discussed for two years, no plans or applications have yet been submitted by Sharon Springs Inc, according to the mayor.
Other than being “a conduit for the money” to help facilitate the cottage rehabilitation plan by owner Michael Lauder, the village government is not involved in the condominium cottage plan, Cousineau said.
Lauder, who owns a seasonal house in Sharon Springs, according to the mayor, did not return a message left Tuesday at his Florida office.
While the grant does not fund the Korean group’s plan to build or restore several former spas or hotel, the proposed cottage condos “are all part of the overall Sharon Springs redevelopment of the spa industry,” said Jody Zakrevsky, economic developer in the Schoharie County Planning and Development Agency. Zakrevsky said he provided technical assistance for the cottage grant application submitted Sept. 28.
“The direct connection is that they are developing higher-end condominiums to support the other developments that Sharon Springs Inc. is working on,” Zakrevsky said. “It is restoring a vacant historic building that will then be on the tax roll.”
The reimbursement funding is dependent on successful completion of the rehabilitation of the last remaining cottage complex once associated with the former Pavilion Hotel, according to Zakrevsky.
“The [cottage] restoration is a great first step toward improving [Sharon Springs’] visual landscapes and generating optimism among residents,” said state Sen. James L. Seward in a statement.
According to the book “A Touch of Nostalgia” by the Sharon Historical Society, “for 103 years, the Pavilion Hotel was the most famous landmark of Sharon Springs.” It was demolished in 1941.
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