GLOVERSVILLE - The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth is selling both major sections of the former Estee Middle School building, and development officials say they might be able to secure a private developer for the dormant project this spring.
The CRG - the new parent company of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. and the Crossroads Incubator Corp. - publicly acknowledged this week its property at 90 N. Main St. is for sale.
Local attorney David Seward is working on behalf of the CIC, which handles real estate matters for the CRG.
The renovated and occupied portion of the Estee Commons complex is seen Friday from Fremont Street in Gloversville.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The unfinished, North Main Street-facing portion of the Estee Commons complex is seen Friday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The CIC owns the former Estee Middle School building property. The CIC several years ago completed the first Estee Commons project - converting part of the former school facing Fremont Street into 39 apartments. Most of those units have been occupied by tenants for the last few years.
The plan for the last few years has been to convert the rest of the downtown building facing North Main Street into 25 condominiums. That part of the project became known as Estee Commons II.
Reese said the current "ballpark" cost of that project is about $4.5 million.
Former CIC Executive Vice President Peter Sciocchetti was working on the project from 2008 to 2010, during which time he and former EDC Senior Vice President Jeff Bray became involved in a scandal over bonuses they received. The two men were fired in July 2010, and the Estee Commons II project never got off the ground.
CRG President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Reese said Friday the second phase never gained much steam, and his agency is now courting a private developer to buy the property.
"We want to have that project developed in the downtown area of Gloversville," Reese said. "Our plan to have that developed into condominium units is not moving forward."
Reese said there is a group of people who are "not local," but now interested as a private concern in buying the phase II property. He said the CRG is negotiating and could close the deal this spring with the prospective developer.
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said Friday he is aware of the potential deal, and like Reese, he cannot divulge details. But he said city officials are excited because the developer already has done a large project in the Capital Region. He said part of the problem was the EDC/CIC loaned itself $700,000 for the project and was not paying itself back.
The mayor said the condominium project may gather steam once in the hands of a private developer.
"I think any time you can have a private business, it's going to go quicker," King said.
Reese said the CRG also has the Estee Commons apartment complex listed for sale. He said the CRG wants to get back into more of the basic economic development roots of the original EDC.
"We want to focus our intentions back to the industrial development," Reese said.
CRG Chairman Dustin Swanger said Friday of the intention to sell some of CIC property: "I think we need to focus on our strengths."
"It doesn't mean we couldn't develop housing," he said. "But I'm not sure developing housing is our strength."
The city of Gloversville previously was named as the recipient of a $2.5 million Restore New York state grant for the project. Reese said Friday he talked with the Empire State Development Corp. and that funding is still available. He said the private developer would have to work with the city to access the funding if the phase-two project resumes.
Reporter Michael Anich can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.