May 15, 2012


Bank to sell Buckbee site


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
The former Buckbee-Mears factory sits empty behind padlocked gates off Kellogg Road. The Bank of India, which owns the property, has agreed to try to sell the property. More than $17 million in liens have been filed against the property, which was last assessed at $2.1 million.

Staff Reporter

The Bank of India will try to sell the abandoned Buckbee-Mears facility on Kellogg Road in Cortland and has guaranteed the city at least $300,000 in any potential sale.
The city, the Bank of India and the federal Environmental Protection Agency have $17.6 million in liens on the property, said city Director of Administration and Finance Mack Cook. He said the three parties reached an agreement Saturday giving the bank permission to pursue the sale.
The city will get at least $302,000 — the amount it is owed in back taxes to September 2006, when the EPA began its cleanup of the site.
The rest of the money will be divided based on the percentage owed to the three parties. The city is owed $1.2 million in back taxes; the bank has an $8.4 million lien; and the EPA has an $8.3 million bill for its cleanup of the site, Cook said.
Cook said the deal is a fair one for the city, since it is guaranteed at least a portion of the money owed. He said the three parties agreed they would all be taking losses in the sale.
If the bank cannot sell the property this year, the city could elect to foreclose on it, but that is not the preferred option at this point, Cook said.
Buckbee-Mears produced television aperture masks — screens through which beams of light are projected to create an image — at the site from the 1970s until 2004.
When Buckbee-Mears closed, India-based International Electron Devices bought the factory for $3.1 million in 2004.
IED went into foreclosure a year later, leaving behind thousands of gallons of heavy metals and chemicals. The building was not weatherized and leaks that developed during the winter polluted the site.
After IED left in 2005, the Bank of India took over the property.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency performed an $8 million cleanup in 2007.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and the Industrial Development Agency, said the hope is the site could have a new owner by the end of the summer.
“We’re going to work toward the best possible solution,” he said Monday. “The most important thing is to get some sort of site control and that’s what we’re working toward right now. This has been a Rubik’s Cube of challenges.”
Last May, four small fires also damaged the property.
The EPA has also funded a $125,000 study to determine the future uses of the site. According to previous reports, the site still requires $5 million in additional cleanup, but Cook said he was not sure if that was accurate.
“The property is suitable to go back into use,” Cook said.
Cook said the EPA study would provide an updated assessment of the building.
Officials from the city and county IDA have been meeting over the last few months to discuss plans for the building.
The city took the property off the tax rolls in 2009. The property was last assessed at $2.1 million.
In 2008, the EPA demolished two of the three production buildings, which totaled between 180,000 and 200,000 square feet. That square footage comprised the bulk of the 330,000-square-foot facility.


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