By Susan E. Campbell
Following two and a half years of negotiation and due diligence, the Saratoga County Industrial Development Authority is now only months away from purchasing a 20-acre plot in the Luther Forest Technology Campus, a transaction that is an “ambitious and rare collaboration among the public and private sectors,” according to Rod Sutton, IDA board chairman.
The plot is part of 125 acres leased, with an option to purchase, by private developers known as the MRFA Group. Sutton said the parcel is desirable because the acreage is “fairly flat, accessible and sits on the corner of two paved roads” in the park.
The land will not be useable and saleable until power, sewer and gas lines have been extended to the site, making it “shovel ready.”
“To be of any value, the property needs the infrastructure in place,” said Sutton. “Developers do not want to buy on speculation.”
By partnering with MRFA Group, the IDA splits the cost of infrastructure in half. The cost is built into the negotiated price per acre.
The IDA, MRFA Group and the Luther Forest Corp. have agreed that once utilities are in place, the IDA would close on the 20 acres for $1.7 million.
No taxpayer dollars will be used in the transaction. Sutton said the IDA will use fees collected from the agency’s PILOT programs that have assisted thousands of businesses throughout parts of Saratoga County where it has jurisdiction.
“This is truly a public/private project and unprecedented,” said Sutton. “The agency is being proactive in reinvesting in the county by promoting jobs and business opportunities for future development.”
“Money from the state and the county are very difficult to come by,“ said Sutton. “We felt we could be in a strong position to attract business to a park that needed help and to promote ancillary businesses that also create jobs for people in the area.”
The purchase of the 20 acres will bring MRFA Group a step closer to servicing the remaining 100 acres under lease, and the tech park can be opened up to further economic development, he said.
Soil analysis is slated to get underway the first week in December. IDA hired Aztech Environmental Technologies to determine if there is evidence of contamination from dumping rocket and jet fuel that was tested for the federal government during the World War II era and into the 1960s.
The name of that dumping site is the Malta Rocket Fuel Area, or MRFA.
“Our goal is to have everything in place during the third quarter of 2018, but that’s ambitious,” said Sutton. “Much of the timing depends on working with town land-use boards and so on.”