September 17, 2013
Bank moves to sell Buckbee site
Foreclosed Kellogg Road property expected to be auctioned within 60 days
After months of inaction, the city and the Bank of India are moving forward with plans to sell the long-vacant former Buckbee-Mears plant on Kellogg Road.
The Bank of India has found a party to facilitate the sale of the plant, Garry VanGorder said at the joint Business Development Corp./Industrial Development Agency meeting Sept. 9. VanGorder is executive director of both groups.
“The Bank of India has settled on a Realtor for the sale of that site,” VanGorder said. “The Realtor has requested access to the site to take photos and to do some site evaluations, so we’re thinking that’s actually going to happen this fall.”
VanGorder added he is uncertain about the future of the plant, but remains optimistic the bank will find a buyer interested in fixing up the former industrial site that was the focus of an extensive federal project to clean up pollution.
“There are companies out there that do invest in brownfields and there are some assets to that property,” VanGorder said. “I’m hopeful there’s a good outcome there.”
Appen Memond, an attorney for the Bank of India, said they have chosen to work with Chuck Anderson of the Charles R. Anderson Appraisal Company in Buffalo. He said they are working on setting a date for the auction.
“Once we have a date we will stick with it for sure,” Memond said. “It will most likely be within 60 days.”
The Buckbee-Mears Corp. made television aperture masks — screens to filter light and create images — in the plant from 1974 until 2004. Shortly after, the India-based International Electron Devices bought the factory through the Bank of India.
IED reopened the factory but rapidly went into foreclosure with its lender, leaving behind thousands of gallons of heavy metals and chemicals that contaminated the site when it closed in 2005 and the property was foreclosed upon in June
In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency performed a site cleanup which ended up costing the agency $9 million. In addition, the city is owed $1.2 million in back property taxes through 2009 while the Bank of India is owed $10 million in mortgage payments.
Mack Cook, the city’s director of administration and finance, confirmed the bank is actively searching for buyers and working on a marketing campaign.
“They’re developing marketing material in addition to what the EPA put together a year ago,” Cook said. “They’ll go to national and regional advertising.”
Last year, the EPA put together a description of the property and potential concepts on how the property could be developed.
The city has first lien, or priority over all other claims, on the property and in a payment agreement between the city, the EPA and the bank, the city would be able to receive the first portion of proceeds from an auction up to $400,000.
Cook said if the bank fails to find a buyer, the city would take over the task of finding a buyer and the bank would not receive any money from the sale.
“If the bank doesn’t find a buyer, the city can foreclose on its tax lien and (the city) attempts to sell the property,” Cook said. “At which time the bank is no longer a party to any proceeds.”
Cook said since this is the last chance it has to recoup losses, he thinks the bank should focus on finding a buyer.
“The bank should be motivated,” Cook said. “They’ve got one chance to sell it. If it doesn’t sell then they’re out of the picture moving forward.”
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