The future of the former TechCity, once IBM, in the Town of Ulster became clearer last week as National Resources released a site plan for iPark 87, an ambitious multipurpose project with 500 units of residential housing over seven buildings, a hotel and arts center, a brewery and food hall, a film studio, industrial space and an elevated walkway. But Ulster Town Supervisor James E. Quigley III wants the project to prioritize the housing component.
The plans for iPark 87 will make their official debut at a joint meeting of the Ulster Town Board and Planning Board on Thursday, October 20, where Supervisor Quigleysaid he expects the phases will be different than they currently appear. In the plans as submitted, the residential space would largely be built during Phase 2, with one 24-unit building part of Phase 3. But last week, Quigley suggested that residential units may be moved to Phase 1 due to the demographics of the area.
“It’s above my pay grade, but I have my feelings on it,” Quigley said. “The fact that the Baby Boomers, instead of working through COVID and staying in the workforce, decided that, ‘Maybe I’ll retire early.’ And consequently, all the experienced labor that was in that pool disappeared from the labor market.”
Quigley pointed to the 2020 census, which showed that more than half of the residents in the Town of Ulster are age 50 or over.
“We’re a retirement community, we’re not an active jobs community,” Quigley said. “And if you look across Ulster County, I think it’s got a similar profile.”
Quigley said there are other indicators that this is the case, too.
“The volunteer fire companies and ambulance services are increasingly facing problems staffing their needs,” he said. “Because people that are volunteering that are currently, or have recently volunteered are aging out, and involvement is decreasing and it’s not being replaced with an inflow of young people because there is a decreasing amount of young people.”
Quigley said in conversations with National Resources President Joe Cotter, he suggested that housing being built ahead of other elements of iPark 87 would ensure prospective employees of the businesses there had somewhere to stay when they arrive, because chances are they’re not already in the area.
“We recently had a business come to the town and buy a building that was a former IBM building on Grant Avenue,” Quigley said. “Where they proceeded to clean out the interior in preparation of renovations that would allow them to move their 200-plus employee business to the Town of Ulster, partially the way through the demolition, they came to us and said, ‘We can’t move our business here. We can’t hire employees.’ And that is becoming increasingly evident to anybody in this community trying to hire employees to provide labor for their business.”
Greenwich, Connecticut-based National Resources’ purchase of the former TechCity in early June of this year included the exchange of 18 parcels for the eradication of $10.82 million in unpaid taxes by former owner Allen Ginsberg. The property deeds for the parcels were transferred to the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance, and were then sold to National Resources for $5 million to be paid over a five-year period, with a commitment to cover a minimum of $7 million in environmental cleanup costs, removal of debris, and completion of interior demolition of abandoned buildings.
According to Ulster County officials, National Resources will invest over $200 million to improve and revitalize the site and create thousands of jobs.
National Resources could not be reached for comment ahead of their October 20 presentation, but in a county press release announcing the sale, their President Joseph Cotter said they expected to move quickly to address outstanding environmental issues and announce near-term tenants.
“National Resources is excited for the transformation of this campus that the residents of Ulster County have long awaited,” Cotter said in the press release.