County fed up with TechCity’s back taxes, moves to foreclose

(Photo by Will Dendis)

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. 

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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.

There are 4 comments

  1. Samuel

    Do it. Enough is enough. The reality is this entire site needs to be bulldozed to the ground; the road system completely redesigned and the site aggressively marketed globally for either high-tech research in direct partnership with a University or network of Universities, with clean labs, adaptable manufacturing that can react to changing market conditions and needs; perhaps a pharma manufacturing facility; and yes if necessary a
    shipping facility for a major global brand.

    In theory, smaller footprint buildings could line a new boulevard parallel to the rail tracks; Enterprise Drive would go away and an interior road network could service one or two office buildings and then larger facilities like data/cloud storage; adaptable manufaturing or warehousing/shipping.

    The other avenue I would pursue if not this mixed research-office-manufacturing concept would be to clear the entire site on both sides of 209 and establish a new university campus in partnership with a series of East Coast Universities. Literally building from the ground up an academic/engineering/medical university that would service let’s say 5,000 – 10,000 students, bringing faculty which would account for several thousand and then the many jobs that would be needed to run the university campus. This would be a boom for this area. It would be similar to the Roosevelt Island University Partnership that’s being build in NYC. There are many universities from around the nation that do not have an East Coast presence and it could be a completely innovative groundbreaking way to establish an East Coast location for some major schools.

    Something the State of NY should consider. Kingston-Ulster would be a prime site for such an endeavor.

    Regardless, for anything to happen this needs to be out of the hands of the current owner and the site cleared to eliminate the ghosts of the past and barriers that this dying site represents.

    To date, the effort and thinking here is so stuck in the past – we need to break the barrier and innovate the heck out of this site or nothing is ever going to happen to benefit this area.

    1. Pete Van Slyke

      Wrong. We don’t need more universities. Existing ones are facing declining enrollment, and no new university has been started successfully in 50 years. Universities exist entirely to sort out applicants and accredit them, so it mainly matters that they are a known brand. Virtually all economic growth in this country is happening in cities, so not only does it not make sense to start a new university in 2019, it makes even less sense to do it in a place that’s 100 miles from the action.

      Bulldoze the entire site and let the market take its course instead of wasting millions on the same doomed idea every podunk city has had since 2000 — transforming their post-industrial vacant space into a “Silicon Valley” or “Research Triangle” simply by throwing tax breaks and good intentions at the problem.

  2. Bill Whittaker

    Wow,what well articulated opposite sides of an argument. Wouldn’t it be nice if
    Suny Ulster or Suny New Paltz would host an open forum where these conflicting
    but appealing views could be shared with the public. Who is closer to the truth,Samuel
    or Peter.

  3. KFS

    No businesses are going to redevelop that site unless they are bribed through taxpayer funded incentives, or New York State and local governments have a fundamental change in the way they treat businesses, (i.e. less taxes and less regulations). It has been over Twenty years since the resort at Belleayre Mountain was proposed and they haven’t turned over a shovel full of dirt yet! That is absolutely ridiculous. With the declining economic activity in The Town of Ulster and the resultant decline in tax revenue it’s time to look at scaling back the size of town government, maybe eliminate the town police department? .

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