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December 13, 2011

 

IDA wants burned-out building developed

By STEVE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
shughes@cortlandstandardnews.net

The Cortland Industrial Development Agency will likely use eminent domain to seize a vacant building on Main Street that was damaged by fire in 2005.
On Tuesday, the agency issued a request for proposals to redevelop 51-53 and 55 Main St.
The fire in October 2005 gutted the building and it has since remained vacant.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Cortland County Business Development Corp. and Industrial Development Agency, said the IDA would use its power of eminent domain to seize the property because the owners have not renovated the building since the fire.
“We want to make sure there’s sufficient interest in the property before we get it,” he said. “We’ve spoken to people about the property and there are varying degrees of interest.”
Andrea Stevens, of East Homer, was convicted in January 2010 of third-degree arson for setting the fire. It held a gift shop owned by Stevens, an art gallery, clothing store and apartments.
Cincinnatus resident Vasilios Pothos owns the building. He could not be reached for comment.
The request does not mean there is an actual development plan. At this point, it is a measure to gauge interest in the property, VanGorder said.
The agency will consider proposals until the end of January. If no sufficient proposals come through, it will have to reconsider its options, VanGorder said.
“It’s never been the agency’s intent to become a developer,” he said.
If the IDA receives a proposal it likes, it is required to make a fair market offer to Pothos, VanGorder said. The assessed value of the two parcels is a combined $88,300.
At anytime Pothos can choose to sell the property or develop it on his own. He can also challenge the offer in court.
In other business, the board declined developer John Scanlon’s request for a waiver on job requirements in his payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
In the PILOT agreement he received when he rebuilt the clock tower building, Scanlon projected that businesses in the clock tower would have the equivalent of eight full-time employees at this point.
To avoid violating the agreement, he needed to meet at least 80 percent of that number, or 6.4 full-time employees.
Instead, he reported that there is the equivalent of 5.6 full time employees.
Since he did not meet the required number, Scanlon’s payment for next year will be based on the actual assessed value of the building, which is $850,000.
A denial for a jobs requirement waiver does not happen very often.
“In my time here, I think this is the first time a waiver has been denied,” VanGorder said. “It was the board’s determination that he has an obligation to live up to the agreement.”
Under the PILOT agreement, his payments were based on the original building’s assessed value, which was $201,300.
Without a waiver from the board, Scanlon will have to pay a penalty of $500-1,000, depending on the tax rates for next year.
Karen Niday, chief financial officer, said if Scanlon meets the requirements for next year, the assessment would return to the original number.
The board also voted to allow local developer David Yaman to split his PILOT payment on the former Smith Corona factory in South Cortland. Yaman bought the property in 2010 and under his PILOT agreement, he owes $93,000 on Jan 1.
Instead, Yaman will make two payments, one on Jan. 1 and the second by June 1, VanGorder said.
“We checked with the three taxing entities and made sure it was OK with them,” he said. “We try to support everyone and he’s bought an old manufacturing plant and almost filled it up. That’s pretty remarkable in the Northeast.”
Yaman will not be charged any late fees or penalties.
The board also approved a five-year $100,000 loan from its revolving loan fund to Glyph Technologies. The annual interest rate is 6 percent. Glyph Technologies makes audio storage systems.
The loan is part of a larger $450,000 financing package that involves several agencies. Glyph also received a $150,000 loan from the city of Cortland as well as $100,000 loans from the Broome County Industrial Development Agency and the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board.
Mike Driscoll, chief executive officer for Glyph, said the funds will help the company expand in to new markets.
“We’re very audio-centric,” he said. “We’re using those funds, along with $50,000 of our own funds, to move into film and photography markets.”

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