Embattled TechCity owner Alan Ginsberg recently sold six buildings at the troubled former IBM site to Mio Marino, a Suffern-based clothing and accessory firm, for more than $13 million.
The sale includes the old IBM buildings 52, 64, 43, 42, 33 and 51 which parallel the CSX railroad tracks at the east end of the site. Deeds accompanying the sale provided by Ulster Town Supervisor James Quigley are signed by Alan Ginsberg and show the buyer simply as Kingston Realty Team with an address of 3 Park Avenue, Airmont NY. The sales were completed on August 17. The price was $13,250,000 according to the deeds. All the buildings fetched higher than their assessed values, Quigley said.
Quigley confirmed Mio Marino as the buyer behind the LLCs. “It has a very sophisticated website with fashion and fashion accessories,” he said. “They sell products through Amazon, Walmart and Macy’s. The supervisor said he could not ascertain what their sales figures were through their website other than it ranked 70,000 on Amazon. Mio Marino’s website lists men’s belts, shoes, socks, winter wear, apparel and accessories and women’s shoes, socks, winter wear and bags as among the items it sells.
The town supervisor said he has not yet personally spoken to the buyers about their plans, but town officials are in a conversation to set up a meeting where the buyers will tell town officials what they’re doing. “I don’t know what this company is worth or what they intend on doing,” Quigley said.
He emphasized that nothing will be allowed to be done in terms of building permits being issued to the new owners or improvements to the buildings until the proposed use by the new owners is reviewed by the Planning Board to make sure it’s in compliance with town building codes, zoning regulations and other ordinances.
Quigley said the buildings were being used by permanent tenants as recently as two years ago when Ginsberg could no longer pay the site’s electric bill. Facing a shutoff by Central Hudson, tenants took over paying the power bills that caused them to suffer severe economic consequences and many of them moved out.
More recently, they housed a few temporary tenants, including the Kingston Area Soccer League and Dutchess Debs softball, which were using the site as an indoor practice facility until last week when they were told by building maintenance staff to move out by the start of this week, according to Quigley. “They have no place to go now. I believe the new owners wanted the buildings vacant to do what they want to do to move operations into it.”
Quigley said he’s had conversations with the owners of the Hudson Valley Mall, Georgia-based Hull Property Group about finding space for the civic organizations in the mall which features numerous vast vacant spaces. “They committed to me that they would enter negotiations with these organizations.” But he cautioned the struggling mall would not represent a permanent home either as Hull plans to redevelop the mall. “They can’t make a commitment when they plan to redevelop the site, which possibly includes knocking things down and putting new things up.”
Other portions of TechCity have been foreclosed on by Ulster County over the past two years with Ginsberg owing the county more than $12 million in back taxes.
In 2020, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced it would begin an emergency partial cleanup of the former IBM property and potentially hold Ginsberg personally liable for its costs. In June two individuals working with a company removing asbestos from the former IBM buildings pleaded guilty in federal court to violating federal and state regulations intended to prevent human exposure to asbestos in relation to work at the site in 2015-2016 where asbestos was removed by using illegal methods. The DOJ said in June the site contained 400,000 square feet of regulated asbestos-containing material, as well as an additional 6,000 linear feet of pipe wrap that also included asbestos.
In 2019, Ulster County took ownership of a large building known as Enterprise West, formerly the Bank of America Building after foreclosure proceedings against Ginsberg. The parking lot of the building has most recently been used by a cultural/business initiative BluePrint, which has hosted a series of summer arts events on the site.
The building once housed 3000 of the 7000 employees IBM employed at this site before they closed up shop for good in 1995.
Quigley said he traces the problems at TechCity back to 1996 when IBM went to Ulster County with a plan on disposing of the property by cutting it into 27 parcels, many mirroring the footprints of buildings. “The master parcel was 98 acres that included parking lots, utility space and green space as a common-use parcel,” Quigley said. “As it turned out in the end, it appears the common-use parcel has the greater potential value than anything else on the site.”
Quigley said the buildings on the site were built for a single purpose to Big Blue’s standards and they were difficult to subdivide. Now three of the old manufacturing buildings are in the process of being demolished, he said.
He said while the town often gets accused of getting in the way of business, he said part of the problem lies simply in Ginsberg making a bad investment and then not taking the responsibility to pay property taxes and electric bills. “The consequences are the county foreclosure of the complex and Central Hudson’s termination of services to Mr. Ginsberg.”