Development group may take Luther Forest land to satisfy loan
MALTA The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency agreed Thursday to consider taking ownership of 21 acres at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in return for forgiving a $650,000 loan.
The agency board approved a letter of intent to strike a deal officials hope will lead to the land’s development.
Under the proposal, the IDA would take ownership of the land and consider investing in bringing sewer, electric and gas service to the site.
The letter will now be submitted to Empire State Development, which holds a lien over most of the technology campus and would have to agree to the arrangement.
“We need to present a partnership of sorts to the state so they know we’re working together to get build-out of the site,” said Michael Relyea, president of the Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp.
The corporation owns most of the 1,414-acre technology campus in Malta and Stillwater, but hasn’t been able financially to extend utilities or attract more development since GlobalFoundries became the first tenant in 2009.
“Everyone looks here first. Right now, it’s not affordable,” Relyea said, citing the cost of utility extensions and the inability under Malta’s zoning to offer economic development tax breaks to new businesses.
Relyea and IDA officials hope to break out of that pattern with the deal they’re discussing. The land would be given to the IDA in settlement of $650,000 in loans the IDA made to help get the technology park started a decade ago.
But the IDA is also being asked to consider spending money to bring utilities to the site. A Saratoga County water line is already near the site, but Relyea said $2 million to $2.5 million would be needed to bring in sewer, electric and natural gas service.
The campus corporation has $1.2 million in remaining state funds for utilities and would be asking the IDA for an unspecified amount to make the site “shovel-ready.”
“I’ve had conservations with two developers who are interested in having discussions about the site,” Relyea told the IDA, which met Thursday in Ballston Spa.
The land, known as Development Area 4, is zoned for nanotechnology manufacturing or nanotechnology support businesses. It is located in Malta, off the main entrance road from Route 67, east of the first roundabout.
Public officials have been growing increasingly concerned that no new businesses have come to the campus since the basic infrastructure was completed in 2009, the same year GlobalFoundries broke ground.
Without having sold more land, the private non-profit Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp. is cash-strapped and has asked the town of Malta for zoning changes that would allow it to offer better incentives to attract companies. The town has yet to make a decision on the request.
“The current business model is no longer working,” Relyea said.
A change in the campus ownership structure is certain, he said, though it’s too soon to know what kind of change it will be.