Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan last week said he believed the beleaguered TechCity business park has an important role to play in the region’s future, but under a different name and ownership.
Speaking during a town hall meeting in the Town of Ulster on Thursday, September 19, Ryan said the property’s owner Alan Ginsberg hasn’t done his part to address issues at the former IBM hub which have led to foreclosure proceedings on some of the parcels.
“Absolutely one of my top priorities is figuring out … an immediate solution to get us out of what I think is a completely untenable situation there, where we have, I think, someone acting not in good faith on the other side,” Ryan said. “I think that’s clear at this point … I plan to ramp up and use all the tools we have to exert pressure on the ownership there to get out of the situation … But that’s just the immediate challenge. I think the more exciting part is thinking about where we go from there. That campus, its location, both in the immediate area [and] in the region, people are salivating over the opportunity to actually do something great there. And I think that really could be a center for real growth and energy for our whole county, if not the whole region.”
Foreclosure proceedings were filed in mid-February by a bank against six of 25 parcels on the expansive property. ConnectOne Bank, an Englewood Cliffs, N.J. concern, claims that as of Jan. 31, 2019, payments amounting to roughly $232,000 are overdue by companies connected to TechCity owner Alan Ginsburg. The payments, according to ConnectOne, are related to both a $7 million loan dating back to August 2014 and a $600,000 line of credit from December 2017.
In addition to three businesses identified as TechCity LLCs, the complaint filed in state Supreme Court in February also included nine TechCity tenants: Ceres Technologies (Buildings 42 & 64); Anaerobic Athletics LLC (Building 33); Brooklyn Brew Shop (Building 33); Innate Movement Parkour LLC (Building 33); JSP Plumbing and Heating (Building 51); C&A Custom Builders, Inc. (Building 51); Visual Color Systems (Building 51); Synergy Merchant Services LLC (Building 51) and Consolidated Harvest Company LLC, a.k.a., Hudson Valley Harvest (Buildings 51 & 64).
The filing follows a January 2019 merger of ConnectOne and Greater Hudson Bank, the owner of the original loans. According to the original filing, TechCity still owes the original loan of $7 million, plus interest, along with late charges and other unspecified expenses.
Last December, Ulster County revealed plans to foreclose on 18 TechCity parcels due to tax debts, but three of those parcels were removed from threat when, according to the county’s Department of Finance Commissioner Burt Gulnick, Jr., ConnectOne paid the debt.
“Their bank is going through their own process, and it doesn’t impact the county because the bank paid on the parcels before they began a bank foreclosure process,” said Gulnick in February.
IBM spent roughly four decades at what’s now known as TechCity before leaving in 1995 after a series of layoffs; the remaining employees were transferred to the company’s Poughkeepsie facility. Ginsberg bought the property from IBM three years later. The sting of IBM’s departure is still felt locally in 2019.
“I know it’s personal to a lot of people in this room what has happened and will happen there,” Ryan said. “My grandpa worked 36 years there, my mom’s dad, and fortunately he retired before they really pulled out and left. Like a lot of people in this room [I’ve] seen the impact and seen us struggle and be stuck for way too long.”
Ryan said he hoped the community at large would help shape a prosperous future of TechCity … or whatever it’s called next.
“It’s got to be a wider conversation about envisioning what the future could be,” he said. “We won’t call it TechCity anymore, I think we can come up with something better than that as a community. I want us all to be a part of the conversation and come up with ideas … The economy is obviously changing around us globally and in the country, and we’re right at that moment where if we go in the wrong direction, we’ll be leaning into the 20th-century economy. We need to build something there that’s tied to the 21st-century economy. I don’t know exactly what that is. It could be clean, green energy … it could be something broader than that. But the goal is to get everybody involved in the discussion. Supervisor [James] Quigley [III] and I talk regularly about this. It’s key that we work closely together, the county and the town, and that we’re synchronized so that everybody’s on the same page.”
Later in the meeting, Quigley asked that Ryan help motivate the proper authorities to ensure cleanup of several buildings demolished on the property moves forward.