Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday nearly $40 million in funding for statewide projects under the Restore NY Communities Initiative, a chunk of which went to support Montgomery County's plan to rehabilitate the decrepit Beech-Nut factory site in the village of Canajoharie.
Restore NY supports municipal revitalization projects in regions throughout the state with the aim of generating economic growth in those areas. The initiative awarded $500,000 for the demolition of several buildings on the eastern half of the Beech-Nut site, funding that Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort said was a major goal of county officials to secure.
"The Restore NY grant was the linchpin of our strategy and to get this was the big piece that we needed to make some serious progress this year," he said.
The county has been pushing redevelopment efforts at the Beech-Nut site since last summer, when officials announced their pursuit of nearly $1 million in state and federal grant money to redevelop the site.
The village of Canajoharie recently filed a motion in State Supreme Court to obtain access to the property on the basis that the owner, Ohio-based TD Development LLC, owes $1.7 million in back taxes. The filing seeks permission to access the site and demolish five buildings and three bridges on the eastern side.
The eastern side of the project makes up a little more than half of the 26-acre site and can be redeveloped at a faster pace than the western portion, which contains more historic buildings that the county is looking to rehabilitate and possibly preserve.
Ossenfort said if Canajoharie's petition is approved the $500,000 in Restore NY money will go toward demolishing the five buildings.
"We're working the plan is what we're doing, and the goal is to get towards the end of the year and have a site that we can begin to market and bring closer to being shovel-ready," he said.
The eastern side of the site has water and sewer hookups, and Ossenfort said the county and village will be looking for a tenant whose business involves extensive use of those utilities. He added that the eastern side will need about $1 million in total funding to get it market-ready.
"Hopefully by the time we get to this summer, I believe we're going to have just under a million dollars for the demolition and remediation," he said, noting that asbestos abatement and a petroleum spill cleanup is also part of the work on the east side. "I believe that will be enough to get us to the point where we can at least begin getting this on the radar of those in the private sector and starting to market it a little bit."
Ossenfort said the city of Amsterdam was also awarded $500,000 for the renovation of a building that formerly housed the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He said the money will be used to renovate and convert the first floor of the building into commercial space while residential units will be installed above. Ossenfort added that officials hope the work will begin this summer.
In total the Mohawk Valley was awarded $4.65 million in Restore NY funding, which includes $1 million for the rehabilitation of two historic buildings in Utica.
The Capital Region was awarded $3 million, a third of which will go toward the demolition or rehabilitation of 10 mixed-use properties in Schenectady. Troy was awarded $778,000 for the rehabilitation and eventual reopening of the historic American Theater.
Projects in the Finger Lakes and Mid-Hudson regions were awarded around $5.5 million each, while the North Country and Southern Tier took in around $4 million each. Western New York received the most funds at $7.3 million, while Long Island brought up the rear with a $1.45 million slice of the pie. Central New York was awarded $3.35 million for four projects, most of which went to initiatives in the City of Syracuse and village of Phoenix.