By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — SCHOHARIE — Frustrated with the inability of Butternuts Beer and Ale Co. to close on a deal that would give the firm the shuttered Guilford Mills complex in Cobleskill, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors opted Friday to spike the arrangement and seek a new buyer.
“We’ve gone well past the amount of time that was originally requested by Butternuts,” said Schoharie Town Supervisor Gene Milone, a Democrat, who introduced the resolution authorizing County Treasurer William Cherry to try to line up a new buyer. “It’s time for this to come to a conclusion.”
Representatives of the company and the spin-off firm that had proposed converting the vacant Guilford Mills into a craft brewery said they were not prepared yet to close on the property and asked for a time extension.
But only five of the board’s 16 supervisors were sympathetic to that idea: Harold Vroman of Summit, Anne Batz of Broome, Daniel Singletary of Jefferson, Tom Murray of Cobleskill and Robert Mann Jr. of Blenheim.
Once the property is listed, Milone said, the investors involved in Butternuts will be eligible to offer to buy Guilford Mills again.
“Nobody is going to turn them away,” he said.
Cobleskill Village Mayor Mark Galasso said he was disappointed the county chose not to give Butternuts an additional extension.
“I hope the county ends up not regretting it,” he said. “Here we are 12 years after the place closed down, and it is still vacant.”
Galasso argued that Schoharie County is desperate for new jobs, suggesting that the collapse of the Guilford Mills deal represents a squandered opportunity.
“Getting new jobs is the most important thing for this county,” Galasso said.
The Guilford Mills property has been appraised at nearly $4 million. The county’s agreement with the Butternuts spinoff, Longhouse LLC, called for the firm to purchase it for $2.5 million, with a significant chunk of that — up to $1.5 million — being returned to the company if it met certain job goals.
Cherry said after the meeting he is already taking steps to have Guilford Mills advertised on the open market. He voiced optimism that a new buyer will be found for the property, which offers some 460,000 square feet of space.
In recent weeks, Butternuts executives had been looking into developing a relationship with the State University at Cobleskill that would have allowed firms moving into the Guilford Mills status to enjoy tax-free status under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start Up New York program. But local officials pointed out that the regulations for that program have yet to be released.