January 19, 2016

Former factory remains on the market

YamanBob Ellis/staff photographer
Real estate developer David Yaman stands inside a 30,000 square foot warehouse on the former Buckbee Mears property on Kellogg Road. Yaman purchased the property about a year ago and is marketing the large factory.

Staff Reporter

Nearly two years after buying the long-vacant former Buckbee-Mears Corp. factory on Kellogg Road, a local developer has completed renovations and is hopeful that interest from prospective tenants will result in a deal soon.
The property consists of a 30,000-square foot warehouse and an adjacent 210,000-square-foot factory building where for 30 years Buckbee-Mears Corp. made specialized light filters for televisions and monitors called aperture masks. The site has been vacant for about a decade.
Financial hardship marked by a series of layoffs in the late 1990s led the company to close for good in 2004. The factory was briefly reopened by India-based International Electron Devices before closing in 2005.
IED failed to winterize the building and thousands of gallons of heavy metals and chemicals left behind leaked, contaminating the site. The federal Environmental Protection Agency spent $9 million to clean the property. Several large buildings were demolished in the process.
David Yaman bought the property at a foreclosure auction for $356,000 in 2014.
Yaman is familiar with these types of projects. In 2009, he purchased the former Smith Corona plant in South Cortland for $4 million, which now houses a number of different businesses. Currently, he is working with Syracuse-based Housing Visions Unlimited to develop the former Crescent Corset factory on south Main Street into a jointly-owned residential and office complex.
Yaman said Monday that while the former Buckbee-Mears property has taken a while to sell, that was to be expected.
“When I bought this (the Kellogg Road property), I assumed that it would take probably three years to turn it around,” he said. “To find the right tenant and to put it together.”
The property was last assessed at$2.1 million and Yaman said while there is no set value for how much he would lease or sell the property, he is sure it will be well below market value.
Yaman said he has had a number of prospective buyers since he finished gutting the buildings to accommodate a tenant, and the marketing efforts continue. He said he has shown both buildings over a dozen times to plenty of people but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked out.
“We’ve had probably two or three (prospective buyers) that have come close, that have been interested,” Yaman said. “But you’ve got to find the right tenant at the right time for the right fit. That’s why it takes time.”
Yaman said that while he has talked to people who were interested in occupying a percentage of the available space, he is looking for someone who is willing to take on the whole property.
With 75 acres, plenty of office space, 44-foot high ceilings, its own power source in the form of a transformer on the property, a wastewater treatment facility and access to the railroad system, the location could accommodate almost any business.
If that wasn’t enough, Yaman said, through his research he has found there are not too many properties that have what the former Buckbee-Mears site is offering.
“There are probably one or two facilities like this in the state,” he said.
He said almost half of the interest in the property has come from businesses outside of the state, which means there’s a chance the facility could bring new industry to Cortland.
“There aren’t an awful lot of buyers or tenants for building of this nature,” he said. “It’s a matter of being patient, and when the right person comes along (to) work with them.”
Yaman said he will continue to do what he can to market the property and is optimistic it will only be a matter of time before the old facility sees new life.
“I knew it would take this long and it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “What would bother me is if we didn’t have any activity. But we have, so I’m feeling good.”

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