AMSTERDAM — The Amsterdam Industrial Development Agency is set to consider a resolution on Thursday to purchase the 3.3-acre site of the former Chalmers Knitting mill, currently for sale with an asking price of $300,000.
The resolution will be proposed by AIDA Board Chairman Joseph Emanuele, a Republican and former mayor of the city.
“Our board needs to agree to purchase it, and it’s not a done deal until our board does that, but once we have the property we would like to start marketing it, and hopefully we come up with a plan that will be agreed upon by everyone, but then again, like the old saying — you can’t make everyone happy,” Emanuele said.
The property is currently owned by KCG Development, which thought it had made most Amsterdam residents happy with its proposal to build $34 million Chalmers Mills Lofts apartment project on the vacant land. Over the course of former Mayor Michael Villa’s administration the proposal to build a 120-unit workforce housing apartment building on the southside received all of the necessary approvals from the city and county, and a 30-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement, but the project ran into trouble after the 2019 mayoral election when new Democratic Mayor Michael Cinquanti defeated Villa. The project developers had intended to continually renew purchase options for the property while they applied for federal low-income housing tax credits in order to finance the construction of the building, but political support for the project collapsed after Cinquanti’s election. Deputy Mayor James Martuscello, a Democrat representing the 5th Ward where the building would be built, dropped his support, leading to a 3-2 party line split vote on KCG Development’s request to extend the purchase option.
The project developers then bought the land where the former knitting mill was located for $297,000 on the last day of a multi-year purchase option with the city of Amsterdam in December 2019. The 3-2 Common Council vote against extending the purchase option forced them to either buy the land or walk away.
In April KCG Development was ready to walk away. Stacy Kaplowitz, the vice president for KCG Development, said she believed the project would not be awarded the $18 million in affordable housing credits it needs to finance the construction of the building without support from U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Cinquanti, both of whom have stated repeatedly they did not favor an apartment building on the parcel.
Kaplowitz in April indicated the developers would attempt to sell the parcel to the Montgomery County Industrial Development Agency.
Emanuele said he proposed that AIDA acquire ownership of the Chalmers parcels after discussing the issue with Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose, who told him the MCIDA was not interested in purchasing it.
AIDA Executive John Duchessi, a Democrat and former city mayor and current District 6 county legislator, said he doesn’t know what the final sale price will be, but he believes AIDA will agree in principle to purchase the property.
“It’s an interesting proposition for the agency, given it’s history, but at the same time we all realize how important that property is to the city, along its waterfront, all of the plans that need to come into life to really develop that,” he said. “This is about site control. The people who own it now could sell it to whomever they want. It’s undergone environmental remediation, and it could be used for commercial purposes.”
Cinquanti said the AIDA purchase does not involve any city money. He said he has been involved in some of the discussions the agency has had with the county and the private developers and he supports AIDA buying the property. He said his preferred outcome would be an “owner-occupied” project for the parcel.
Emanuele and Duchessi both said AIDA has approximately $700,000 to $800,000 at it’s disposal to purchase and develop properties within the city.
Duchessi said AIDA is also consider engaging an engineering and planning firm to conduct further project development that takes into consideration the following elements:
• Site assessment and review of existing environmental documents
• Alignment with existing planning goals and programs
• Historical context of unsuccessful site development
• Use of various existing market analyses
• Establishment of a new master site plan with alternative uses
• Project specific funding opportunities
• Development of materials appropriate for the use in marketing the site
An official associated KCG Development and DEW Ventures Monday said Kaplowitz had no comment on the possible purchase.
The Thursday AIDA meeting will be live streamed on YouTube 6:15 P.M., and may be viewed from this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-WRxnalnbI/.