Developer lays groundwork for potential Schoharie warehouse

PHOTO PROVIDEDHighbridge Development CEO John Roth, center, discusses his plans for a logistics center on Route 30A in Schoharie on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.
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PHOTO PROVIDED
Highbridge Development CEO John Roth, center, discusses his plans for a logistics center on Route 30A in Schoharie on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

SCHOHARIE — A Schenectady-based developer gave local officials an update Tuesday on his plan to potentially build a massive warehouse at the Route 30A exit of Interstate 88.

John Roth of Highbridge Development said he hasn’t secured an occupant for the project yet, but market analysis shows high demand for such a facility. He wants to secure all local approvals for the plan so he can pitch it as shovel-ready — available for occupancy on a much shorter timeline once a company commits to it.

“We’re hopeful we can get our final approvals in the next four to six months,” Roth said Wednesday.

Highbridge bought the roughly 50-acre site on the southeast corner of the interstate exchange in 2021.

Its plan calls for a 540,000-square-foot distribution center-type logistics facility. There would be 154 loading docks and 593 employee parking spaces. 

Office space would be included in the warehouse, and there would be two potential retail sites in front: One for a fast food restaurant, the other for a convenience store with fuel pumps.

All this would be served with two driveways off Route 30A. 

Water and sanitary sewer lines would be extended from the Schoharie Business Park on the west side of Route 30A.

Roth said he’s confident the demand for such a facility exists in the busy logistics industry and will hire CBRE to market it once approvals are in place. He’s optimistic about the approvals, too.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the town and the county on this project and from SEEC,” he said. “It’s a great community to work with.”

SEEC — the Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corp. — is excited about the prospect, Executive Director Julie Pacatte said.

“There is a lot of support at the county level for this type of development,” she said. A study commissioned for the county in 2021 found demand for this type of project in the Capital Region but a shortage of sites that could accommodate it, she said. The fact that a developer with a solid track record made just such a proposal would tend to validate the study’s findings, she added.

The town’s representatives in the Legislature, Sen. Peter Oberacker and Assemblyman Chris Tague, were among the officials joining Roth at the site for an update Tuesday. 

Pacatte said their interest stems in part from a soon-to-launch state economic development program designed for exactly such projects in high-demand sectors including logistics, warehousing and semiconductors.

FAST NY — Focused Attraction of Shovel-Ready Tracts New York — will provide grants of up to $500,000 to cover pre-development site planning and review, and/or award a certification that the developer has met shovel-ready standards.

Pacatte acknowledged one potential sticking point: Finding employees to fill 593 parking spots. Schoharie County has only about 30,000 residents, and the state Department of Labor estimates only 500 are unemployed and seeking jobs as of June 2022.

“The laborshed will have to pull from all directions,” Pacaette acknowledged, but added that many organizations work to develop the workforce in the county and beyond.

However, a major new employer in Schoharie County would not draw job applications solely from the ranks of the unemployed. Some people with long commutes to work might prefer a job closer to home.

“A lot of our folks commute out of county,” Pacatte said. “Hopefully this expands the opportunities.”

Categories: Business, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News

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