Ulster County is moving to foreclose on a major portion of the former IBM plant in the Town of Ulster after the owner failed to pay some $8 million in back taxes. The move marks the latest blow to plans to redevelop the sprawling former industrial complex under the leadership of owner Alan Ginsberg, who purchased the site in 1998. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Acting County Executive Adele Reiter wrote that the county had begun foreclosure proceedings on “select properties” at the site in October. Reiter added that Ginsberg had failed to meet an April 18 deadline to pay the tax bill.
“I will not stand by and allow the taxpayers of Ulster County to bear the burden of paying TechCity’s property taxes,” Reiter wrote. “Accordingly, I have directed the county attorney to foreclose on select properties on the TechCity campus.”
Reiter’s statement did not specify which portions of the campus faced foreclosure. County records from November 2018 showed at least 39 parcels on the campus in arrears.
Reiter’s announcement comes one day after an emergency meeting to address unpaid utility bills at the complex. Tenants at the campus, who pay for utilities through AG Properties of Kingston, received a letter from Central Hudson last week advising them that gas and electric service at the site would be shut off on Wednesday, April 24 unless Ginsberg paid an unspecified sum in overdue fees. According to Ulster Town Supervisor James Quigley III, an emergency meeting on Tuesday between the utility, the state Public Service Commission and tenants at the site narrowly averted a shutoff after tenants reached a tentative agreement to have the largest energy consumers at the campus assume responsibility for utility bills going forward while the company continued to pursue Ginsberg for the outstanding balance. On Wednesday, Quigley said the unpaid tax and utility bills were more evidence that Ginsberg could no longer effectively manage the site.
“As a landlord, it is not economically feasible for him to run these properties,” said Quigley. “He can’t pay his bills.”
Quigley said that he welcomed the foreclosure as a chance to bring some stability to an issue he called Ulster County’s most vexing issue. With the parcels in county hands, Quigley said, officials could seek state grant funding to redevelop the site and potentially bring more modern infrastructure needed to attract advanced manufacturing businesses.
“Any action that moves that property to a more stable set of ownership that can attract resources from New York State for redevelopment is a positive for citizens,” said Quigley.