Saratoga County

Board OKs GlobalFoundries expansion

The town Planning Board approved plans Tuesday for the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant to be exp

The town Planning Board approved plans Tuesday for the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant to be expanded by an additional 30 percent.

The approval could lead to GlobalFoundries investing an additional $2 billion in the chip fabrication plant now under construction in Luther Forest, already expected to cost $4.2 billion.

The company has said there’s enough market demand that it wants to increase the size of the “clean room” where chip manufacturing takes place from 210,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet. The rest of the building and supporting structures would also be increased in size.

“The market has induced us to build out as much as we can with the money-making part of the fab, and that’s the clean room,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, local attorney for GlobalFoundries.

The expansion isn’t expected to significantly change the projection that 1,200 to 1,400 jobs will be created at the plant, Jones said.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has yet to make a final decision on whether to expand the plant. It is trying to negotiate an investment incentive package with New York state, and those talks are ongoing.

“It’s going to be great to have this [town approval] locked in, and we will keep the ball rolling forward on the other fronts,” GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard said Tuesday.

Bullard said the company wants to make a decision within the next few weeks so any expansion can be started while large cranes and other heavy construction equipment are still available on site.

The cranes and other equipment have been working since last fall on erecting the shell of the massive new factory. At this point, Jones said, about two-thirds of the roof trusses are in place and about three-quarters of the manufacturing sub-floor pieces.

The expansion would mean bringing in more construction jobs to keep the project on schedule, since Art Kaplan of general contractor M+W Group said that even with the expansion, the building is scheduled for completion by September 2011.

At that point, the installation of the complex manufacturing tools would start. The plant is supposed to be ready for commercial operations by late 2012.

The Planning Board approval was the only town approval needed for the expansion, since even a large chip plant would still be within the size limits set in the town’s zoning legislation.

Construction of a new high-voltage electrical substation behind the plant could start almost immediately, since Kaplan said that will be needed even if GlobalFoundries decides not to go forward with the expansion.

GlobalFoundries and M+W Group will hold an open house so the public can seek the construction progress from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the construction site.

Categories: Business

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