Saratoga County

Saratoga Springs ice cream plant back in foreclosure

The former Ellsworth Ice Cream Co. property is in foreclosure proceedings for the second time in fou

The former Ellsworth Ice Cream Co. property is in foreclosure proceedings for the second time in four years, but the new owner said that has more to do with the current lending environment than delinquent payments.

Private lender 120 Division Street Holdings last week filed a notice in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County seeking foreclosure against owners Hotel Square Development and S. Alexander Stephens III, who took a $1.03 million loan in January 2010. But Stephens said the filing is a formality, and he’s not actually behind on payments. Rather, he’s been unable to secure permanent financing for the development, and the lender has chosen not to renew the temporary loan after it expired.

“They’re really just taking the necessary precautions,” Stephens said. “It’s really a reflection of the financing environment the last two years.”

Banks are less willing to lend and take a risk. But that environment will change again, he said.

“It’s unfortunate with a project like this,” Stephens said. “It’s such a great project.”

Stephens owns SAS Builders and plans to construct a mixed-use project of 66 luxury townhouses, 28 apartments and 9,500 square feet of retail space on the site.

He believes the matter will be sorted out soon, and he’ll be able to demolish the 60,000-square-foot factory and start construction.

“We’re on the cusp, and we are very close to having that resolved,” he said. “We have full intention to move forward with this project.”

The paperwork filed in court Nov. 9 says the developer hasn’t repaid the loan amount, interest or late charges and Stephens hasn’t upheld his personal guarantee for the loan.

The terms called for 8.5 percent interest on the loan for the first year and 10 percent after that. In the case of a default, 5 percent more would be charged.

The same day the foreclosure notice was filed, the city Planning Board approved an 18-month extension for the development, for which site plans were approved in February.

“It’s a project that was embraced by the city,” Stephens said.

As presented in November 2010, the townhouses would be built along Division Street, where the building now stands, and a three-story building at the corner of Division and Walworth streets would house retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors, according to designs created by Michael Phinney of Phinney Design Group.

The townhouses are proposed as brownstone-style row houses with private garages behind. Plans also include 172 parking spaces for residents, retail employees and customers.

The property itself has been down a long road. The Ellsworth Ice Cream Co. closed the 50-year-old plant in 2007, and the lender started foreclosure proceedings that year.

Gerald Ellsworth, company president, died in early 2008, and equipment from the factory was auctioned in October 2008.

Ellsworth Ice Cream was once one of the largest makers of private-label ice cream and novelty frozen products in the Northeast.

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