CANAJOHARIE — The next phase of the Exit 29 redevelopment project at the site of the former Beech-Nut facility in the village of Canajoharie is within sight after Montgomery County released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for demolition work at the site.
The RFP issued on Sept. 20 is seeking bids for the demolition of 22 buildings on the western portion of the 26.9-acre site.
Montgomery County is seeking developers for commercial, residential and retail proposals for the 6.9 acres of property on that portion of the site.
The eastern portion of the former Beech-Nut property is the proposed site of a cannabis cultivation operation from E29 Labs. The company entered into a Purchase-and-Sale agreement with Montgomery County in April 2021 for 19.6 acres of property on the eastern section of the site.
“Successful redevelopment of the Exit 29 site has been a long-standing priority for my administration and the community,” Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort noted in a statement. “Canajoharie relied on the economic impact of Beech-Nut for over a century. We are making marked progress toward breathing new life into this site and making it an economic engine again. Securing the bids and completing this demolition work is going to be another major accomplishment on the road to redevelopment. I look forward to working with my partners in the County Legislature to secure a contract that will make for a positive start to 2023.”
The company has a five-year purchase option agreement with the county in which E29 Labs would purchase its acreage of the site for $550,000. The company, which is pursuing a license through the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, plans to build a $15 million to $30 million cannabis cultivation site at the location of the former baby food plant.
The first phase of the proposed E29 Labs project would establish a cannabis cultivation, processing and packaging operation, with the company projecting that it would hire up to 125 employees during that time. In the second phase, a greenhouse and additional support facilities would be built, with the project’s third phase including the expansion of the cannabis production capacity as well as the establishment of a public cannabis education facility.
The Montgomery County Business Development Center is managing the project site and leading the efforts to develop the former plant, including the marketing of the 6.9 developable acres on the western portion of the site
“We’ve actually had leads along those lines and we’re working on a couple of leads now,” the business development center’s CEO Ken Rose said on Tuesday. “We’ve had some [developers] interested in rehabbing some of those buildings on the western side, but the financial aspect hasn’t made much sense. Once we demolish that side, we’re looking potentially at residential and commercial opportunities on that side.”
Bids from contractors for the RFP will be accepted by the county until Friday, Oct. 14 at 11 a.m., at which time the bids will be opened at the county office in the village of Fonda. The contract duration for the demolition work will last 280 calendar days from the date the bid is awarded.
Rose said, ideally, once bids are in for the RFP, the business development center would make a recommendation to the county Legislature in time for its Nov. 22 meeting.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to reward the contract, which would then set up a nine-to-10-month demolition window for the contractor,” Rose said. “If everything went well, we’d anticipate the demo being completed by sometime in the late third or fourth quarter of 2023.”
In addition to 22 buildings, the canopy structures over the former northern and southern loading docks at the project site are set to be demolished as part of the construction work.
In 2019, the county enlisted a contractor to remove the majority of the structures on the east side of the site, with interior asbestos remediation work completed on that side of the property in 2020. The Beech-Nut Nutrition plant relocated to the town of Florida in 2010, with the county foreclosing on the Canajoharie plant in July 2017.
E29 Labs is currently going through a site plan review process with the village of Canajoharie Planning Board for the proposed project on the east side of the development.
“They’re going through that process right now,” Rose said, “so I would anticipate them getting through that approval process hopefully by the end of this year.”