City Economic Development Director Robert von Hasseln sounds enthusiastic about the future of two buildings that once housed the production facilities of Fiber Glass Industries.
In August, the fiberglass manufacturing company announced it would shut down its plants on Edson Street and Shuler Street. Company officials cited the ability of manufacturers overseas, particularly in China, to sell similar products at lower prices.
Von Hasseln said the owner of the Edson Street plant, former FGI chairman John Menzel, is close to selling the property to an unidentified Midwestern manufacturing company. He didn’t disclose details of the sale.
And there are a number of companies interested in purchasing the Shuler Street property, he said.
“A company that recycles high-quality metals is very interested,” von Hasseln said. “But we’ve had a few companies come in and say they want to transform the space into high-end apartments, so we have some options.”
Von Hasseln said the building has great views of the Mohawk River and is in a convenient location.
“The building is close to the river, and some of the views are really incredible,” he said. “It is also close to the Clock Tower, where people can work. It would be a great opportunity for people to be able to live and work in the city.”
Mayor Ann Thane added the building has “some of the best views in the city and would be a spectacular residential building.”
At that time, she said, residents had mixed emotions about the closing.
“Some were concerned about another business leaving the city and what that would do to our city,” she said. “But some were optimistic about opportunities for those locations in the future.”
Von Hasseln said the worry in the city and county was that former FGI employees would be left without employment. But many of the 75 people who lost jobs as result of the closing have found new opportunities, he said.
“Some have retired, but many have gone on to do other things,” he said. “I contacted local companies, like Mohawk Lifts and General Electric, and they said they had a number of openings. I then contacted the personnel director at FGI and told her to inform the employees that were laid off.”
He added that FGI’s decision to leave Amsterdam has not had as much a negative impact as many city residents originally feared.
Von Hasseln said he is looking to add the Shuler Street property to the National Register of Historic Places. This will allow the building’s next owner to apply for tax credits that will help cover rehabilitation costs.
“It is an interesting time for the city,” Thane added. “Obviously, we are excited about any business or employment opportunities coming to the city.”
Officials at FGI and Menzel could not be reached for comment Wednesday.