TechCity is told process cannot resume until debris is cleaned up
TechCity will not be allowed to demolish Building 001 on the sprawling Enterprise Drive campus until debris from the six other razed structures on the property has been removed, town officials say.
At a Town Board meeting Thursday, Ulster Supervisor James Quigley said the demolition permits have lapsed and only the remaining section of Building 034 will be allowed to come down.
“I will allow them to take 034 down because it’s half down now,” Quigley said. “As long as they’re making substantial progress on the cleanup of the middle, they can take 034 down, subject to receiving a permit.”
The town granted demolition permits in September 2015 for seven buildings at TechCity, a former IBM plant, without requiring a cleanup plan for the property. Town officials said at the time that a debris removal deadline was not set because never before had there been a project of that size to use as a precedent.
The seven buildings — 001, 002, 003, 004, 025, 034 and 035 — ranged in size from 8,364 to 277,571 square feet and had market values ranging from $120,482 to $6.6 million.
Building 001 — which is behind the building that has the large, familiar clock on its facade — measures 274,928 square feet.
TechCity had about 2.4 million square feet of building space before demolition began.
Once the razing is complete, the total will be about 1.46 million square feet. Quigley said TechCity representatives have said they will have the debris removed by the end of the year. He said it’s difficult to judge how much debris still is on the property because the debris is spread out and mounds change positions as materials are sorted. “I can’t gauge it,” Quigley said.
Referring to Building 025, the four-story structure at the corner of Boice’s Lane and Enterprise Drive that was torn down at the end of 2015, Quigley said: “Four months ago ... they had those humongous piles of debris that had basically the carpet and the roof fabric just piled up there and it looked really ugly. That’s all gone and you’ve got a clean slab except three piles of crushed concrete.” Quigley said a contractor wants to take crushed concrete from the site and is waiting for the state Department of Environmental Conservation to determine if the material is acceptable to be used as fill. “If you go to the center
where the manufacturing buildings were that were built in the 1950s, there’s still large piles of metal and there’s still piles of unprocessed concrete,” the supervisor said. “They’re still in the process of loading out and taking the metals to the recycling yard. If you drive in there, you will see that they’re processing the concrete through a screener to separate the sizes.”
The buildings that make up TechCity were an IBM plant from the mid-1950s until 1995, and site at one time employed more than 7,000 people. Downstate developer Alan Ginsberg bought the entire property in 1998 for about $3 million, renamed it TechCity and pledged to fill all of its vacant space quickly. The site, though, has never been even half full in the 18 years since, and most of the tenants have been small businesses.
The entire property up for sale again, but without a specific asking price. TechCity has said the buildings targeted for demolition were obsolete and that marketing the property will be easier without them. The demolitions also appear to have had an impact on TechCity’s overall assessment being lowered. A state appeals court in April slashed the assessment from $40.7 million to $28 million, in part because of contamination left at the site by IBM, but the judges also noted the demolitions of “functionally obsolete” buildings.
Debris from a demolished building at TechCity is removed on Friday.