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November 30, 2013

County tries new Guilford Mills pitch

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — COBLESKILL — Frustrated by years of being unable to sell the vacant Guilford Mills commercial complex, Schoharie County officials have hit the reset button and will now consider leasing a small section of the building.

“Our goal is to get this building occupied,” Schoharie County Treasurer William Cherry said.

The county holds the title to the property, and local officials said they are eager to get it back on the tax rolls.

Until now, the county has been hoping to find a single buyer for the Guilford Mills property, one of the largest commercial warehouse spaces in the region. The property, consisting of 460,000 square feet, offers quick access to Interstate 88, and is connected to power lines and a municipal sewer system as well as natural gas service.

In October, county officials pulled the plug on a tentative deal to sell the real estate to Long House Holdings LLC, a sister company of Butternuts Beer and Ale, which is based in Otsego County. That company wanted to turn the building into a brewery, but its principals, after encountering financing challenges, asked Schoharie County officials if they would be willing to hold a second mortgage. The County Board of Supervisors rejected that proposal and walked away from the proposal when Long House asked for additional time to line up financial backers.

Guilford Mills, located on the southern edge of the village of Cobleskill, has been largely vacant for the past 12 years. The last formal appraisal of the property came in 2009 when its market value was pegged at $4.2 million. After the deal with Long House unraveled, Schoharie County has put the property back on the market, with the asking price of $3 million.

Coordinating the sale effort is Cherry, who said in an interview at the Guilford Mills plant that the county will consider any reasonable offer. But he said the county now realizes that he chances of finding a company to purchase an unoccupied building that needs to be refurbished and has so much square footage is slim.

“There is no market in the northeastern U.S. now for a building with 460,000 square feet,” he said. “No company needs a space that big.”

Handling the marketing of the building for the county is CBRE, a global real estate firm. It would receive a commission of either 5 or 6 percent of the selling price, depending on what the county accepts as a final offer from a buyer.

The advantage of having multiple companies lease space at Guilford Mills is that it will make the property more attractive to investors, such as real estate trusts, Cherry reasoned. Having several tenants located at the site, he said, will also help to cushion the county’s economy from the type of blow that would be inflicted if a single tenant suddenly folded its operations.

“We’re willing to talk to anyone who is interested in relocating their business here,” he said. “We will do whatever we can to meet their needs.”