NEXT STEP: MARKETING PLAN
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
SCHENEVUS – It’s not perfect. It needs natural gas. It needs a waste-water treatment solution.
But what the 130-acre site at I-88’s Exit 18 – selected out of 86 sites within two miles of Otsego County’s nine interstate exit as the best for a 350-500 job distribution center – has that’s almost impossible to find is “99-percent community support,” said county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.
Oberacker was interviewed after a consulting firm, McFarland Johnson of Binghamton, hired by the county Board of Representatives to rank distribution-center sites, reported last week it had narrowed its selection from 86 to 62 sites, then to 10, then to five – and then two: the one at Exit 18, and another to Tait Road atop a mountain on the other side of I-88.
The study was commissioned after Oberacker had convinced Sandy Mathes, then Otsego Now president, of the benefits of the Kinch property for a distribution center, the county board commissioned the McFarland Johnson study to make sure the optimum site was chosen.
After Adam Frosino briefed the county reps at their March meeting on the 4th – the Tait Road site was bigger and flatter, he said, but the approach was up steep Route 41 – the board gave the go-ahead to the Schenevus distribution center, the type used by Amazon, Dollar General, Walmart — virtually every major U.S. retailer.
The site, said Frosino, is right off I-88, where an entrance with “curb appeal” can be created by turning the T at the exit and Route 7 into a four-way crossroads. Plus, a second entrance is possible from Smokey Avenue, which runs along the site’s west side.
There’s sufficient land for a 600,000 square foot building, access to utilities, and an owner — Ron and Helen Kinch — willing to sell.
While Tait Road could accommodate a million-square-foot building, Frosino was asked what big retailer would be interested in a 600,000-square-foot one possible at Exit 18. Yes, he replied. Some distribution centers are as big as 1.5 million square feet; some as small at 300,000 square feet.
The Schenevus site is just right, he said.
Oberacker, who is now running for state Senate to succeed retiring state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, points out the #1 site is also south-facing, meaning anyone who locates there can take advantage of solar energy to allay costs.
Two challenges remain, he said the interview. One, sewage disposal: he said a package plant might suffice. Two, natural gas; in addition to solar enhancements, truck deliveries along I-88 might be sufficient, he said.
It was also pointed out that a distribution center could spur related development — a truck stop/gas station, for instance, or a motel.
The next steps, Frosino said, are a market survey, conceptual site plans, a conceptual cost estimate and obtaining environmental reports. The idea is to make the site “virtually shovel-ready,” he said.
The idea, also, is that Otsego Now, the county’s economic development arm which last week received a $75,000 allocation from the county reps, would buy the site and market it. Since it would be job-creating, there would likely be state grants available to help with its development.