These people are doers. Not much grass grows under their feet. After celebrating their impending purchase of the painfully obsolete ex-IBM site in the Town of Ulster on December 7 with local officials and other notables, James Cotter and Lynne Ward, the top two executives of the development firm National Resources, visited a decrepit building on the site in which they hope to install a manufacturing site for one of their first prospective new tenants, the iconic Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, located a few miles away across the Hudson in Ancramdale. Ronnybrook’s principals went with them on the tour.
Real-estate brokers always counsel their clients, the sellers, to prepare a property for showing. These developers insist that they’re all about jobs, not real estate. If you fill a place with jobs, they have proven in many places, your real estate will greatly increase in value.
Rick Osofsky of the Ronnybrook-owning family was dismayed by what he saw. How could a company The New York Times has called “the Dom Perignon of dairies” be proud of this place as a significant manufacturing facility for its high-end products? The ex-IBM building was a much-neglected shambles: dirty, unkempt, with piles of waste strewn around. The utilities shut off, the water bills unpaid.
Cotter and Ward knew, of course, that major work was needed. But they didn’t quite own the building yet. Any lawyer worth their salt advises clients not to commit for repairs to property they don’t own. Most developers would have waited at least until the contract of sale from the county government to the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance, Inc., the not-for-profit county intermediary, was approved — as it was this Tuesday evening, December 21 by the Ulster County Legislature.
But these are not ordinary developers. Ward said they immediately contracted over the phone with a Massachusetts firm that specializes in this kind of work to clean up the mess. Get it done.
Rick Osofsky of fast-growing Ronnybrook Farm is by no means a standard businessman himself. He bemoans the lack of comity in the modern world. It’s no accident that Ronnybrook’s slogan is “Hopelessly out of date, and proud of it.”
After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1966, Osofsky chose to go back to the family dairy farm where he grew up. Why? A president of Wesleyan once said that the most important gift acquired from a liberal Wesleyan education was “how it helps you discover what it is that you really love.” Said Osofsky, “Kate [his daughter, Wesleyan 1994] and I both believe this is a reason that we returned to the farm. It’s what we love to do.”
Osofsky said he would like to be at the new iPark 87 in the Kingston area. It’s much closer to the family farm than iPark 84 in East Fishkill, and he has relationships with other food companies and community farms on the west side of the river.
The Osofskys and a financial partner are scheduled to visit iPark 87 to talk with National Resources about reconfiguring the rehabilitated space in accordance with Ronnybrook’s needs, and to negotiate rental terms.