March 13, 2012
Suit-Kote unveils Preble expansion
Former Barden Homes plant would serve as offices, maintenance facility
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The former Barden Homes property off Route 281 in Preble would be converted into offices and a maintenance facility for Suit-Kote Corp. The paving company has a purchase offer on the vacant 111,000-square-foot facility.
PREBLE — Hours after receiving preliminary approval for a deal that would save it $500,000 in local taxes for a proposed office and maintenance facility, Suit-Kote Corp. told town officials the project is being designed to protect the aquifer.
Highway construction company Suit-Kote wants to purchase the vacant 111,000-square-foot Barden Homes facility in Preble near Interstate 81. The 16 acres would host its maintenance operations and some offices.
If Suit-Kote does relocate some of its operations to Preble, it will retain 215 jobs in Cortland County. Approximately 200 of those jobs are seasonal. The move will also allow the company to create three full-time and four seasonal jobs.
There will be no asphalt manufacturing at the Preble facility. The company’s headquarters and asphalt manufacturing facilities will remain at Lorings Crossing in Cortlandville.
Moving some operations to Preble would be convenient for the company, keep a major employer in Cortland County and allow it to expand in the future, said Suit-Kote spokesman Brian Renna.
Suit-Kote maintenance operations include engine repair, welding, automotive body repair and painting.
“It will give us access to Interstate 81 and the ability to stay here in Cortland,” he said. “Staying here is very important to us. We’re a family owned company and the last thing we want to do is upend our workers and force people to make a decision like that.”
Last month the company announced it was looking to expand and that the expansion could include moving operations to sites in Onondaga and Broome counties or northern Pennsylvania.
The company is expanding rapidly and the move is necessary so it can continue to grow, Renna said.
“We’re in rapid growth mode and our facilities are outdated,” he said. “We can’t continue to expand at this rate unless we move and expand.”
After introducing the project, Suit-Kote’s presentation turned to the few modifications it plans on making to the site.
Suit-Kote wants to install eight fuel and used fuel tanks throughout the facility. Six of those eight tanks will be double-lined, all of the new tanks will be put on new concrete slabs and put under a roof.
For the larger tanks, which will hold 12,000 gallons of fuel, the slab will have enough storage space to contain a 12,000-gallon spill, said Ryan DuBois, the safety and environmental specialist for Suit-Kote.
Another concern the company addressed was truck traffic.
At its peak, the company is expecting 125 trips per hour.
Those trips will be staggered, however, and the peak traffic will be on early Monday mornings and late Friday afternoon as crews leave and come back from projects, DuBois said.
“They’ll be leaving at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Mondays and returning at 4 and 5 at night on Fridays,” he said. “The rest of the week you won’t really know we’re here.”
There is a purchase offer with the Barden & Robeson Corp. for the site, but Renna said he did not know the specific amount because the deal was not closed.
“It is in excess of $2 million for the land and the buildings,” he said.
The Barden Homes facility is assessed for $2.2 million.
The town hired attorney Pat Snyder to help examine the proposed project and any possible impact on the town. There will be a special Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. March 22 to go over the company’s plans with Snyder, who was not able to attend Monday’s meeting. The meeting is open to the public but is not a public hearing.
The next step is for the town’s Planning Board to approve the company’s site plan. After that it needs to get an aquifer protection permit from the Town Board and the board must hold a public hearing on the project.
Town Supervisor Jim Doring said if the company goes through the permit process and gets its site plan approved, it will be a good thing for Preble.
“Jobs are always important,” he said. “Their presence here would be beneficial and there might be opportunities for Preble citizens.”
Earlier in the day, Suit-Kote received preliminary approval for a 10-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the Cortland County Industrial Development Corp. as well as a one-year mortgage tax and sales tax abatement.
The total exemption for the company between the PILOT agreement and the abatements will amount to $508,110.
Under the agreement, Suit-Kote will pay $241,290 in lieu of taxes over 10 years. It would pay $689,400 without the exemption, a difference of $448,110.
The company will also save $40,000 in sales tax and $20,000 in mortgage recording taxes.
The company will invest around $500,000 in renovating and updating the Barden Homes facility, which closed in 2009, within the first year, Suit-Kote Vice President Paul Suits told the BDC board of directors.
Keeping a major employer like Suit-Kote in Cortland is very important, said IDA board Chairman Mike McMahon.
“I think in many ways job retention is our No. 1 job,” he said.
Keeping Suit-Kote in the county will also help local suppliers and vendors, said BDC Executive Director Garry VanGorder.
“Last year they spent $5 million with local businesses,” he said. “This agreement will give them the freedom to expand and keep them competitive.”
A public hearing will be held on the Suit-Kote agreement with the Industrial Development Corporation in the next few weeks.
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