City to reconsider buying Oneonta Sales Company building

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star

The former Oneonta Sales building at 27 Market St. is shown Monday, Jan. 20.

The city of Oneonta is again considering the purchase of the former Oneonta Sales Company building, at the corner of Market Street and Chestnut Street Extension.

The 29,574 square-foot building is owned by members of the Twelve Tribes, a religious organization that operates the nearby Yellow Deli, and with whom Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig said city officials have engaged in “on-again, off-again” discussion for several years regarding the building’s purchase.

“We’ve reached an agreement,” Herzig said. “They want to sell and we want to buy.”

The Oneonta Common Council is expected to authorize the mayor to enter into a $425,000 purchase agreement at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21.

If the purchase is approved, the city will demolish the building and clean up the site using a $477,915 grant from the Restore New York Communities Initiative Program, which was awarded in 2018 and is set to expire this year, Herzig said.

Plans for the site, a former car dealership, have not yet been decided, Herzig said, but the property may be incorporated into the city’s plans for a redesigned streetscape for Market Street.

The city received funding to make the area safer and more pedestrian-friendly, with new street lighting and structural and aesthetic improvements to the parking garage, Herzig said.

“It would be a shame to redesign Market Street around a blighted property that would probably just sit there for another 20 or 50 years if we don’t do something about it,” he said.

Alternatively, the property may be incorporated into the city’s plans for a new transit hub on Market Street, Herzig said. City officials are working with a consultant to lay out initial designs for the project.

Twelve Tribes members rejected a 2016 offer from *Oneonta-based economic development agency, Otsego Now, to purchase the property for $150,000. Plans at the time included redeveloping the site as part of a proposed Mohawk Valley Food & Beverage Innovation Center.

“We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement,” Herzig said. “As we continue to work towards revitalizing downtown, it’s important to take advantage of the grants we were awarded to remove blight.”

*Updated Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 11:18 p.m. to correct the agency Twelve Tribes members rejected a 2016 offer from. 

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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