City against sale of county-owned Foundry building, neighboring - WBNG.com: Binghamton-area News, Weather, Sports

City against sale of county-owned Foundry building, neighboring properties in Binghamton

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- A Broome County-owned eyesore in Binghamton, set to be sold and demolished, is causing controversy. 

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar announced Wednesday the county would try to sell the former Phillips Foundry building on Frederick Street to LCP group. 

According to Garnar, the sale would include other adjacent lots totaling about 2.8 acres.

Garnar says demolishing the building and other nearby lots will help revitalize Brandywine corridor.  He says the county submitted a resolution to the legislature to sell the properties for $5,000.

Binghamton Mayor Rich David sent out a statement Wednesday calling Garnar's plan "short-sighted" and urged the county to keep ownership of the property. 

Read Mayor David's statement below.

“County Executive Garnar’s plan is short-sighted and will make marketing and developing the overall area much more difficult by taking yet another parcel out of public control and increasing the number of parcels under private ownership. During my tenure and prior, I have seen multiple redevelopment deals fail at this location because of the difficulty for an entity to acquire all the properties necessary to advance a large-scale project. The County Executive’s plan would make that task much more difficult and would hinder future economic development opportunities.

As a priority site in a designated New York State Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA), a better and more well-developed plan is needed. 

Selling a strategic property for pennies on the dollar solely to get a dilapidated building demolished illustrates a lack of vision and economic development strategy for the site. The wiser step would be to retain site control, identify grants or other funding to raze the building, and work with the City and other key property owners to develop a viable plan.

If there are structural and safety concerns, the City recommends the property be transferred to the Broome County Land Bank to pursue funding for demolition. Given the expense, other funding sources that could be pursued, if needed, are the County’s occupancy tax brownfield fund, grants from state agencies, or assistance from Senator Fred Akshar and Assemblywoman Donna A. Lupardo.

The City of Binghamton is also at the ready to help secure demolition and remediation funds. We have a demonstrated track record of developing creative solutions to blighted vacant properties. 

The City faced a similar scenario with the North Side’s Big Lots Plaza at 435 State St. We found a grant, demolished the plaza, and are addressing environmental concerns and advancing a $20 million affordable housing project. That project will serve as a catalyst and anchor to redevelop a portion of the North Side. 

At 50 Front St., the Broome County Land Bank secured $3 million in grant funding to demolish a blighted and vacant hotel and clear the way for a $30 million high-end housing project.

Imagine if the City or Land Bank took the easy road and ceded control of these properties just for demolition. Our community would have lost out on two major revitalization projects.

To be clear, my concerns center on the County’s decision to sell these properties, not LCP Group, which is a well-respected local firm that has often contracted with the City for demolition work.

At some point, Broome County must take responsibility for its blighted properties and work with local municipalities and the Broome County Land Bank. County Executive Garnar should have engaged community stakeholders, namely the Mayor's Office, City Council and The Agency prior to making this announcement.

The County Executive has put forth a proposal that affects City of Binghamton taxpayers without input or support from the individuals elected to represent them.

I will bring these and other concerns to the Broome County Legislature, which ultimately has to approve any sale of County property. Demolition would also require approval from the City’s Commission on Architecture and Urban Design (CAUD).

I'm confident the Legislature will complete its due diligence and we can move in a different direction that will benefit the Brandywine Corridor and the City of Binghamton in the long term.”

In response to Mayor David's statement Wednesday, Garnar said, "This property at 80 Frederick St. in the City of Binghamton needs to be demolished this year with private funds not years from now with taxpayer dollars, as the Mayor is suggesting.”

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