The county has received 22 proposals for the unused west side of the former IBM campus in the Town of Ulster, also known as Enterprise West.
The county acquired this property in 2020 after the completion of foreclosure proceedings with the original owner, and could have a major impact on the economic growth of the region. The development of this site has the potential to bring jobs and tax revenue to the Kingston City School District, the Town of Ulster and the County as a whole.
“For far too long we have watched this site decay right in front of us, but now we see a path forward to finally address this long-standing reminder of what we lost as a community when IBM left,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said in a press release. “We have an opportunity now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic, to rebuild better and stronger than we were before – to leverage our resilience during the pandemic into the energy and cooperation it will take to build a more people-centered economy going forward.”
Enterprise West was used most recently in 2015 by Bank of America as a tax processing center. It is composed of two parcels that comprise over 80 acres of land, including an office building of over 400,000 square feet. According to the County’s Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI), the property also has a parking lot that can hold 1,700 cars.
The submissions for the use of the properties were due on Feb. 26. They could fall into one of three tracks: “Track 1” proposals are for buying all or part of the property, “Track 2” proposals are for renting all or part of the property and “Track 3” proposals aim to assist the county in the redevelopment of the site.
A few of these proposals are focused on the expansion of existing institutions, such as Bard’s proposal, which seeks to use the building space for classrooms, art storage and performance venues. Additional proposals include one from UCSPCA, to develop a new animal shelter and one from The Farm Bridge, to expand its food processing and distribution operations.
There is also a proposal to “rent space for a women-owned and operated coop outfitter,” as well as one from Hudson Valley Center for Innovation, “to create an incubator/accelerator program for growth-oriented local businesses.”
“The County should continue to do everything it can, as quickly as it can to get these properties back to a point where they can support local businesses to generate jobs and pay taxes,” Deputy Chair of the Economic Development Committee and Ulster County Legislator Herb Litts said in a press release. “In the current climate, when many of our businesses are still reeling from the COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever that we demonstrate our commitment to our local businesses.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many people and businesses hard across the country; Ulster County is no exception. The County saw a major increase in SNAP applications and senior Meals on Wheels requests, according to the County Executive’s desk last December.
County Executive Ryan stated that Ulster County would be seeking to continue to be a leader in green economic efforts and to establish a County-wide Green New Deal during the State of the County Address.
Included in the RFEI of this project, one of the goals was to “Advance the County’s goals for a Green New Deal through the production and use of renewable energy, the use [of] green building materials and practices, and the expansion of green businesses and jobs.”
However, many of the proposals are heavily based in green technologies.
For example, C2 Biotechnologies wants to create a “waste-to-energy” project which would support indoor agriculture on the site and Plant Seeds, to make vertical gardens using their “locally-designed vertical garden planter” in numerous locations around the site.
The Ulster County Economic Development, Tourism, Housing, Planning & Transit Committee were scheduled to meet on Mar. 2, to discuss transferring Enterprise West to the Ulster County Economic Development Alliance, according to the press release.