Despite—or because of—a tour of Newberry’s, the Town of Cobleskill is going ahead with plans to purchase 107 Union Street.
Supervisor Roger Cohn said Monday that the town expects to make a $150,000 offer on the former Arts Council space, possibly as soon as the next day or two.
“At this point, we’re not interested in Newberry’s,” Mr. Cohn said, “and we’re not interested in getting into a bidding war. We’ve said all along: $150,000 and no more. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll stay where we are.”
Wednesday, representatives from the town, the Village of Cobleskill, Schoharie County Planning & Economic Development and the IDA walked through the former Main Street 5 & 10 with developer and soon-to-be mayoral candidate Mark Nadeau acting as tour guide.
Alarmed by the town’s plan to purchase and renovate 107 Union Street for its offices, Mr. Nadeau and the Cobleskill Partnership had successfully lobbied for 60 days to pull together the details they believe will show Newberry’s is the better option—even as the town said it wouldn’t put the brakes on its plans.
Wednesday was their chance to show off the building they feel could be the key to revitalizing downtown.
Mr. Cohn was unable to make Wednesday’s tour for health reasons, but talked to councilmen afterwards and said none of them believe Newberry’s would work.
“I think it [Newberry’s] needs to be saved, but is the Town of Cobleskill the savior? No,” said Deputy Supervisor Linda Angell.
“We could buy it, but where would the money—and the money for renovations come from? Taxpayers? No.”
Even as Mr. Nadeau led the group through the building Wednesday, Ms. Angell and others said they had concerns over light, ventilation, asbestos, and mold—all things she said the town wouldn’t want to expose its employees to.
Even if the town ends up buying 107 Union, it’s likely to take at least the 60 days CPI and Mr. Nadeau were given to “sell” them on Newberry’s, and Mr. Cohn said they’re still welcome to make a preliminary report at the July meeting.
But, the town may have some competition for the Union Street building:
Mr. Nadeau said he’s giving “guidance and support” to another person who wants to buy it.
“I know for sure there are other offers on the table” and this person “is making another offer,” he said Friday.
Mr. Nadeau, who said he has no financial interest in Newberry’s, has argued against the town’s buying 107 Union, in part because it would take a desirable building off the tax rolls and because he sees the town—either as tenants or owners--as the key to revitalizing Newberry’s work.
That’s something that bothers Mr. Cohn.
“It’s like they’re holding the town hostage,” he said. “If we say ‘no’, then we’re the bad guys.”
Mr. Nadeau said he’s gotten involved in the Union Street purchase “to help a person realize her dream’ and also to keep the building on the tax rolls.
“How can a single person compete against a municipality with deep pockets?” he asked.
What the town forgets about 107 Union, he added, is “maintenance, care and personnel.”
“A good deal is a good deal only if you have the money,” he said. “It’s not the $150,000. It’s the $150,000 with 15 years of interest. The town will be borrowing from the taxpayers.
“Newberry’s is common sense. That’s all it is.”
After criticisms that Newberry’s owner Harry Ioannou had been missing from talks, Mr. Ioannou was on hand for the walk-through of the building best known for its boarded-up windows.
Mr. Nadeau said renovations, which would include a ramp-up parking garage on the east side of the building, would be about $2.5 million and would be done in stages.