Cobleskill Partnership Inc. has 60 days to make its case for Newberry’s.
Meanwhile, the Town of Cobleskill will keep moving toward its purchase of 107 Union Street—just not very quickly.
The town has signed a letter of intent to purchase for former Arts Council building, but it’s unlikely they’d close on the deal by then, Supervisor Roger Cohn told CPI representatives Monday.
CPI has long seen the former Newbury’s Building as a cornerstone of downtown revitalization and is arguing that instead of buying 107 Union, the town should consider leasing space there instead.
CPI President Brian Kaiser told Mr. Cohn and councilmen that not only would their buying the property take it off the tax rolls, he said it’s one of the few pieces of prime real estate in the village.
Having a tenant like the town would boost CPI’s chances of getting grants for Newberry’s rehab, Mr. Kaiser said, and he asked for 60 days to put together a proposal with owner Harry Ioannou to “sell” the idea.
The town needed more than an hour of convincing before councilmen asked CPI to report back at their July meeting with whatever they were able to put together by then.
They also suggested Mr. Ioannou be there.
“Why hasn’t the owner stopped by…?” asked Councilman Sherwood Veith.
“We’re talking about someone else’s property. His absence is very obvious to me tonight. He should be here.”
Though Mr. Veith said the town owes it to the community to give CPI some time, he said he believes 107 Union Street is likely the best option and Mr. Cohn and other councilmen leaned that way too.
Mr. Cohn pointed out past attempts to get grants for Newberry’s rehab have all failed and said the fact that the front windows have been boarded up for over a year shows a lack of pride in the building.
It’s no secret the town has been looking to move back downtown for years, he said.
“We think this will help downtown,” he said. “Rather than wait, we made a move. I think this is a better deal than waiting for Newberry’s.”
Councilman Linda Angell said the town needs a safe, secure place for records storage; people she talked with, she said, characterized Newberry’s as “scary.”
Those are all concerns that CPI feels can be resolved with Newberry’s, Mr. Kaiser said, as long as they can buy a little time to do it.
Mark Nadeau, a developer and just-announced candidate for mayor, said he sees a Newberry’s with a three-level parking garage, an exterior elevator, terraces, apartments on the upper floors and commercial and retail on the lower.
“It’s not your money,” he said of the $150,000 purchase price and another $150,000 in planned renovations.
“Be careful how you spend it. Newberry’s is ready for a tenant of your size now. The possibilities are endless.”
Councilman Ken Hotopp said he doesn’t see anything lost by waiting 60 days to close on 107 Union Street; Mr. Cohn said the town has no contract, only a letter of intent—now expired—and he’s already told owners Anne Hendrix and Jane Whitbeck that if they find someone willing to offer more for it, take it.
Councilmen stopped short of taking any action to slow down the purchase of 107 Union and agreed with Councilman Tim Purcell’s suggestion that they do a walk-through at Newberry’s.