Responses signal strong interest from a range of partners to put the long-dormant site back to productive use, creating jobs and providing local tax revenues
Proposal includes satellite college campus, arts and maker space, and agricultural manufacturing facilities
KINGSTON, NY – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced on Monday that the County received twenty-two responses to its request for ideas to redevelop two parcels on the west side of the former IBM campus in the Town of Ulster, which are known as Enterprise West. The expressions of interest represent a broad range of proposed uses for the former office building and surrounding property and demonstrate immediate opportunity to put the long-dormant site back to productive use, creating jobs and providing local tax revenues to the County, the Town of Ulster, and the Kingston City School district.
“The interest from local and regional businesses, developers and other partners is strong, as we knew it would be when we first took control of these parcels in 2019,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “For far too long we have watched this site decay right in front of us, but now we see a path forward to finally address this long-standing reminder of what we lost as a community when IBM left. We have an opportunity now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, to rebuild better and stronger than we were before – to leverage our resilience during the pandemic into the energy and cooperation it will take to build a more people-centered economy going forward.”
The two County-owned parcels comprise over 80 acres of land and a 400,000 square foot office building that was last used in 2015 as a tax processing center by Bank of America. The RFEI was issued after members of the Ulster County Legislature expressed a desire to understand how the site might be reused, should it decide to open up the site for redevelopment.
“Even though we sensed there would be strong interest in reusing the site, the RFEI was a helpful process to identify our goals and priorities and to determine whether there are other partners out there who would be willing to help us achieve those goals and priorities,” Director of Economic Development Tim Weidemann said. “The answer we received was an emphatic ‘yes.’ Nearly all of the expressions of interest we received provided direct and tangible concepts that would help us advance our economic development goals – generating property taxes, supporting our target industries, creating high-quality jobs, and honoring the important legacy of innovation and creativity that the site represents.”
Among the submissions received by the County are five proposals to purchase some or all of the County-owned property, 11 proposals to rent or lease, and 12 proposals to provide services to assist the County in redeveloping the site. Submissions include redevelopment proposals from:
- Bard College, to use the existing buildings for academic classrooms, performance/event space, and storage for the College’s art collection;
- Blueprint HV, which represents a consortium of Kingston-area businesses including The Farm Bridge, the Farm Hub, NoVo Foundation and multiple artists/musicians, to create an agriculture and arts center in the existing buildings and parking lot;
- Borrego Solar, to develop a utility-scale solar farm on vacant land near the Esopus Creek;
- Bridge Arts and Education, to house artistic and educational programming and collaborative community events;
- C2 Biotechnologies, to create a waste-to-energy project that supports indoor agriculture on the site;
- The Farm Bridge, to expand its food processing and distribution operations, which aggregate local farm products for value-added production.
- First Serve, to create an indoor tennis facility;
- Hudson Valley Center for Innovation, to create an incubator/accelerator program for growth-oriented local businesses;
- Jonathan Burkhart, to create a multi-media, performing arts and education center that taps into the area’s growing film and television sector;
- Plant Seeds, to establish vertical gardens using their locally-designed vertical garden planter in multiple locations at the site;
- Rough Draft and Kingston Bread Bar, to expand their Kingston operations into the Town of Ulster and to establish a bread production kitchen;
- Snider, Sarah; Dukler, Sarah; Bier, Allison, to rent space for a women-owned and operated coop outfitter
- Town of Ulster, to develop soccer fields and trails, a solar farm, and a new Town facility;
- UCSPCA, to develop a new animal shelter;
- Vertices Media, to manage outdoor events in the parking lot.
In addition, several responses were received from real estate professionals who wish to support the County’s goals for redevelopment of the site, including:
- A Larovere Consulting & Development, to purchase the site and collaborate with other local firms who are interested in reinvigorating the site;
- Advance Testing Company, to provide environmental testing services;
- CPL, to provide design, engineering and construction management services;
- Duna Real Estate, to provide property management and leasing services;
- Pioneer Realty, to provide general real estate advisory services;
- Sustainability Solutions and the Center for Post Carbon Logistics, to provide planning and design services.
“I am thrilled to see so many local and regional partners stepping forward to assist with the redevelopment of this site,” Chair of the Economic Development committee and Ulster County Legislator Brian Cahill said. “It really shows we are at a tipping point, and that once we give a green light to move forward with redevelopment we will see this site come back to life in some exciting ways.”
“The County should continue to do everything it can, as quickly as it can to get these properties back to a point where they can support local businesses to generate jobs and pay taxes,” Deputy Chair of the Economic Development committee and Ulster County Legislator Herb Litts said. “In the current climate, when many of our businesses are still reeling from the COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever that we demonstrate our commitment to our local businesses.”
“Small businesses in Ulster County have been our lifeblood since the departure of IBM and now they are stepping up to help us recover from the pandemic in so many ways,” President and CEO of the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce Ward Todd said. “I applaud the County Executive and the Legislature for working together to turn this site around, and for recognizing that the most successful revitalization of this site is one that engages and involves our local businesses.”
“These submissions clearly showcase an appetite for reuse of this important site, but really represent the tip of the iceberg,” Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance Sarah Haley said. “Once we all agree to move forward, the interest will only grow as more residents, businesses and developers become aware of what we’re doing at the old IBM site. I am excited not just for these first steps we’re taking today, but for all of the future opportunities that we will unlock as we demonstrate that Ulster County is truly open for business.”
The Ulster County Economic Development, Tourism, Housing, Planning & Transit Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss transferring Enterprise West to the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance. The deadline for submissions for requests for expressions of interest was last Friday.