Only 1 proposal for old Guilford plant


By Jim Poole

There’s little interest in the building that once housed Schoharie County’s private employer.
Only one out of six companies that sent a preliminary proposal for the former Guilford Mills plant followed up with a more extensive plan, county Economic Developer Jody Zakrevsky said last week.
Now, Mr. Zakrevsky added, the county will step up its marketing efforts to find a buyer who’ll bring in jobs.
The lone proposal came from an energy-related company interested in the 500,000-square-foot vacant building.
“It’s worth considering,” Mr. Zakrevsky said. “We’ll be talking about it.”
Yet he’s disappointed that the five other companies that sent letters of interest by the September 30 deadline didn’t flesh out their plans by October 15, the second deadline.
The county took over the former factory in a tax foreclosure settlement this summer. Guilford Mills closed in September 2001, putting more than 500 out of work.
Last month, the Economic Development Grow Team sent about 100 requests for proposals, hoping to encourage potential buyers.
But only one followed up.
“They raised some questions about the building that we’ll have to answer,” Mr. Zakrevsky said. “And we have to do due diligence to confirm their finances and experiences.”
Of the other five interested earlier, Mr. Zakrevsky received a call from one “that said it was beyond their ability;” the others didn’t respond.
There are other possibilities, however. Mr. Zakrevsky said Empire State Development forwarded information about the site to a solar-energy manufacturer, and that company is interested.
So far, Mr. Zakrevsky said, the Guilford plant made the second round of the solar-energy company’s search process.
The company is also looking outside New York State, he added.
“We haven’t been kicked out,” Mr. Zakrevsky said. “We feel we have a very good shot if it’s sited in New York.”
And another opportunity may come from the state itself.
The state is interested in establishing a data center “that would bring in about 80 very high-paying state employees,” Mr. Zakrevsky said.
Albany is interested in the Guilford site, but an investment from the state at this point is not a sure thing.
“There’s no guarantee,” Mr. Zakrevsky said, “especially with the proposed state budget cuts.”
The Grow Team will expand its marketing efforts from the Capital District and New York metro area to nationwide.
The team may also tweak its approach to focus on the building’s strengths, Mr. Zakrevsky said.
“In terms of square footage and acreage, it’s one of many available,” he said. “But few sites have a building of this quality. It’s not just your standard, run-of-the-mill building. We’ve got to get that message out there.”