Fulton County IDA awaits Johnstown Renewables auction details

JOHNSTOWN — The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency is waiting to learn how much was raised in a recent auction for the dormant Johnstown Renewables project because some proceeds will repay nearly $1 million in sales tax benefits.

At its October meeting, the IDA board authorized an escrow agreement with Johnstown Renewables.

Construction of Johnstown Renewables at the Johnstown Industrial Park was shut down in spring 2017. The project was mainly halted due to the unexpected passing of main financier, Christian Eisenbeiss. Subsequent developers later showed interest, but didn’t complete the project. The IDA has been involved with the project, extending the project completion date for benefits until Dec. 31.

But the proposed Johnstown Renewables project has lay dormant for sometime. The plant was originally supposed to be up and running by Oct. 31, 2016. Since then, the project has been marked by unfinished construction and legal action.

Johnstown Renewables was expected to use whey byproducts from the nearby FAGE USA yogurt manufacturer and turn it into useable products such as ethanol and animal feed. The $16 million project was expected to create 27 jobs to start. But construction was halted on a 5.2-acre parcel. Workers had been constructing the plant. But Johnstown Renewables shut down construction in 2017 at its partially-completed Enterprise Road building.

California-based advisory firm Heritage Global Partners conducted an auction from Oct. 22 to 29 in Johnstown, as key assets such as project equipment were liquidated. Specific items auctioned off included 50,000 and 25,000-gallon stainless steel vertical jacketed silos. Other items to be liquidated included stainless steel tanks, cooling towers, a drum drying resource four-column automated distillation system, nozzled disc centrifuges, a diesel generator, and a stainless steel filter system.

IDA Executive Director James Mraz said Thursday that his agency board discussed Johnstown Renewables at its meeting Tuesday at the Fort Johnstown Annex. He said proceeds of the auction are still being tallied by Heritage Global Partners.

“We’re waiting to hear,” Mraz said.

He said Johnstown Renewables was able to access about $960,000 in sales tax benefits for the ill-fated project.

The IDA board heard Tuesday that the escrow agreement with Johnstown Renewables stipulated that proceeds from the auction would be used to repay sales tax benefits earned by Johnstown Renewables.

Mraz said the escrow agreement has been finalized and is being executed.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.


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