By Christine Graf
The Fingerpaint office building at 395 Broadway in Saratoga Springs has been sold for $11 million to Robert Moser of Prime Group Holdings.
A private equity and real estate company, Prime Group Holdings has an office at 85 Railroad Place.
Fingerpaint Group, a pharmaceutical marketing company, now leases space at 18 Division St. The company was headquartered at 395 Broadway for 10 years, and company founder Ed Mitzen purchased the building five years ago for $9 million.
“When we moved into the building it had been vacant for a year-and-a-half because Borders (book store) went out of business,” said Mitzen. “It was a great home for us for 10 years. We loved being there. I think it’s the best location in all of Saratoga.”
At the height of the COVID pandemic, the building sat empty while Fingerpaint’s 150 employees worked remotely.
“I was the biggest anti-work-from-home guy on the planet,” said Mitzen. “I was incredibly surprised to see how productive everybody was.”
When non-essential employees were permitted to return to work, Mitzen surveyed his staff, asking them if they preferred to remain working from home.
“The general consensus was that they wanted to come in once in awhile but that they enjoyed being able to work remotely,” he said. “From my standpoint, if the work quality was still great and it was leading to happy people, I didn’t want to force people to come into the office.”
When presented with the option to return to the office or continue to work remotely, the majority opted to work from home. On any given day, there were only about 10 people working on site.
According to Mitzen, it no longer made sense to pay a $40,000 a month mortgage on a near-empty building.
“I didn’t want to see such a prominent piece on Broadway essentially be empty all of the time. That piece of Broadway should be a very vibrant part of the downtown, and we weren’t going to be able to do that with 10 people. I was looking to lease it but ultimately got an offer from Bob Moser,” he said.
“It worked out well, and my wife and I plan to use the proceeds (from the sale of 395 Broadway) in our foundation, Business for Good. So, it will ultimately be pumped back into the community.”
Mitzen and his wife, Lisa, established their non-profit after selling a portion of Fingerpaint to a private equity firm in 2020. Headquartered in Saratoga, Business for Good works in underserved communities, investing in people to build better businesses, stronger communities, and a more equitable world.
Mitzen delves into his philanthropic journey in his new book, “Wealthy and White: Why Rich Guys Like Me Have to Show Up, Step Up, and Give Others a Hand Up.”
“My book talks about how folks like me have to do more to give people a hand up. It’s only been out about six weeks, but it’s already done well,” he said.
According to Mitzen, a native of Voorheesville, Business for Good has numerous projects in the works throughout the Capital Region.
“We just helped launch the Albany Black Chamber of Commerce. We’re helping several people of color grow their businesses in Albany. We’ve got two restaurants going into downtown Voorheesville that are going to donate all of the profits to youth sports. We’re opening up a Hattie’s location where Lombardo’s used to be in downtown Albany. There’s no shortage of need for what we are doing.”
The Mitzens work with Business for Good’s team of 20 employees to determine what projects to fund. They choose projects that align with their mission and are likely to have the biggest impact in the community. To date, they have supported over 150 businesses and community organization.
Mitzen said he is hopeful that the work that they are doing will motivate others to give back.
“Hopefully, it will inspire other people. Even if they don’t have the financial resources, there’s a lot that we can all do to help the people who have sort of been left behind.”