VICTORY — An environmental cleanup at the historic former Victory Mills industrial site in the village of Victory, the first step in a multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the property, is about to begin, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Wednesday.
The DEC announcement of an extensive soil contamination removal project to start this spring came a day after the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency approved a revised financing and incentive package for the redevelopment, raising the total financing from $59.5 million to $68.6 million, with an incentive of discounted property taxes for 30 years after the completion of construction.
IDA officials indicated they are optimistic about the new plan to turn the aging mill complex into a 186-unit apartment complex with 6,000 square feet of commercial space — expected to be a microbrewery.
The developer is Regan Development of Westchester County, which has done dozens of projects in metropolitan New York, Connecticut and New Jersey over the last 20 years. It completed an apartment complex in Albany last year, and currently has an apartment complex underway in downtown Glens Falls.
Regan’s proceeding with the environmental work marks a step beyond what occurred with two previous developers who made redevelopment proposals, one of which got an IDA financing deal, but both ultimately walked away. DEC has approved the cleanup plan, which will allow Regan to get brownfield cleanup tax credits.
The old mill on Gates Avenue, overlooking Fish Creek, was used for various industrial purposes for more than 170 years, from 1846 until about 2000.
The 230,000-square-foot, five-story mill has long been the dominant structure in the tiny village at the eastern edge of Saratoga County, in an area where late stages in the Revolutionary War Battles of Saratoga took place in 1777 — hence the name of the village. The mill is currently in dilapidated condition, with the building identified as having asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint and mold growth.
Known soil contaminants at the 6.6-acre site include semi-volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metal. An environmental investigation completed last fall found that while the contamination is extensive, there is no threat to the general public.
DEC officials said work will begin this spring and take about three months. Under the approved plan, heavily contaminated soil will be removed and disposed of off-site, while less-contaminated areas can be remediated by covering them with two feet of clean soil in open space areas, or covered with building, asphalt or concrete in areas that are going to be developed. Other construction can’t start until DEC certifies the cleanup as complete.
After the last mill operation, which made packaging paper, closed in 2000, Saratoga County took possession of the property for unpaid back taxes. In 2008, Long Island developer Uri Kaufman bought it from the county with a vision of converting it into 98 upscale apartments. He secured an initial approval from the IDA, but was unable to arrange financing. The plan languished and the mill deteriorated to the point that the village sued Kaufman in early 2018, seeking to force demolition. Kaufman signed an agreement to sell the property to Regan Development later that year.
The county, town of Saratoga and village governments have all supported the plans, including the tax incentive package. Under the IDA tax agreement, there will be no additional taxes on the property for the next four years, or until the cleanup and renovation is completed. After that, the property will have a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, paying $187,689 the first year, with the amount to then rise 3 percent each year.
Regan also will have an exemption from state and county sales tax on building materials and the mortgage recording tax.