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Renewal of IBM campus, home of punched cards and circuit boards

Endicott, NY — The sidewalk along Washington Avenue in Endicott, NY is empty enough for a bike to cruise its length on a smooth voyage. But 40 years ago, when IBM’s factory hummed with thousands of employees, cyclists may have chosen a different route.

“At lunchtime, we couldn’t look down the street because of the crowds,” said Mary Morley, owner of Angeline’s Flowers, one of the few storefronts without a “rental” sign. “It used to be quite a place.”

Since IBM began reducing operations and closing factories in the 1980s, it has been entertainment in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley regions of New York to melancholy remember the days gone by. Indeed, the entire region was once a kind of expanded company town for tech giants, which started and spurred much of the growth of housing and retail. Financial distress continued when Big Blue left.

However, the large campuses that remain in places such as East Fishkill, Ulster, and Endicott hold the key to economic recovery, and business leaders say they are working to reinvent them.

They say the campus is lined with warehouses, close to utilities and major highways, and is ideal for tenants engaged in large-scale production and transportation, a segment of the industrial market that grew during the pandemic.

And that New Yorker pandemic relocation To the north, a potential new workforce is within reach, adding momentum to redevelopment efforts.

“Companies shouldn’t be easily unhooked just by declining. Connecticut-based developer of empty industrial parks across the country, Lynne Ward, executive vice president of National Resources, said: “But some good infrastructure is left behind.”

In East Fishkill, the town of Dutchess County, where IBM once had more than 600 acres along Interstate 84, good bones seem to be particularly attractive to food-related businesses. Since National Resources purchased 300 acres of parcels in 2017 and renamed it iPark 84, the space has been leased to companies that manufacture cookies, cocktail syrups and crepes.

Joining this fall on a 3,000-square-foot berth is nearby milk provider Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. (IBM is also an iPark tenant, and GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturer that purchased most of IBM’s chip manufacturing assets in 2014, owns 160 acres of land.)

To create a lively scene, National Resources has built barn-like wings in one of its manufacturing buildings, making all the food produced there available to the general public in grocery stores.

The complex, which costs $ 300 million to buy and redevelop, is 90% leased, she said. She added that housing and hotels are also being considered on the site.

“There is a rejuvenation here and we need it,” said co-founder Adam Watson. Sloop brewing, Some moved to iPark for thick floors, high ceilings and easy wastewater treatment. Some bars have circuit boards found in the refurbishment embedded in a transparent surface.

“A lot of customers talk about this building or how it worked in that building,” Watson said.

Other sections are also busy. Amazon’s 15-acre warehouse is a 124-acre plot east of East Fishkill and is being developed by a team that includes an industry-focused Bluewater Property Group. The deal, which involves a property tax cut, will create 500 full-time jobs, according to town officials who rezoned the entire property in 2014 to seduce new users. But the campus, which once manufactured chips for Sony’s PlayStation 3, employed 22,000 IBM workers in its heyday, National Resources said. Bluewater did not comment, and an IBM spokesman declined to offer past employment numbers.

Of course, installing a non-IBM tenant does not guarantee success. The Amazon facility will be set up on a site owned by Chinese solar panel maker Linuo Group 10 years ago. Similarly, the adjacent 33-acre plot will be replaced by the sports King Dome sports facility, but little construction has been done since the project was announced in 2015.

Redevelopment was also tricky across the Hudson River in the town of Ulster, but the promotion of new marketing is raising expectations. In the late 1990s, a project called TechCity IBM’s 258 acre campus..

However, a dispute broke out between developers and authorities over unpaid taxes, delaying the necessary cleanup of soil pollution. Today, the Tech City sign under the rusty water tower proves a once strong list of tenants, but only a handful of companies remain. But this week, Ulster County has applied to seize real estate over its $ 12 million unpaid tax bill.

As the process progresses, attention is focused on another part of TechCity, an 80-acre two-building parcel seized by authorities in 2019 due to similar tax issues. This spring, the county received about 20 suggestions for redeveloping or leasing the site from bakeries, nonprofits, local farms, and more. Authorities will announce their picks within a few weeks. Many winners are expected, they said. Because it turns out that having one resident in every space is too risky.

7,100 employees working in IBMAccording to local historian Wardmintz, it was the driving force behind the ranch-style homes and strip malls in the area that closed the site in 1995. Efforts to reintroduce residents to somewhat desolate areas are now attracting attention at concerts on the vast grounds where IBM-er once parked cars for the manufacture of typewriters and air defense systems. ..

“We are trying to bring life and energy back to a sad place,” said Pat Ryan, an executive in Ulster County. He praised IBM for hiring his grandfather for 36 years, even though he had never earned a high school degree.

Other previous IBM properties in Ulster have also been transformed.

This summer, RBW, a 14-year-old lighting design company in Brooklyn, bought an office building in the 1980s for a new home. Alex Williams, co-founder of RBW, who moved to a weekend home in the area after the coronavirus struck New York, said the pandemic influenced the move. Many RBW workers who have hired 55 pre-pandemics are also expected to move, although they are hiring locally.

According to Williams, the refurbishment will strip the wall-mounted carpet with chair-shaped engravings and add a 1,200-square-foot courtyard on a tree-lined road as part of the $ 7 million project.

“Twenty years ago, it might have been fashionable to revitalize factories,” he said. “But I find it very interesting to have a blank canvas that is a space like” Dilbert “. “

Located along the Susquehanna River Home of IBM’s first factory 1906; Manufactured punch cardsA data storage device that was a kind of prototype computer. Huron Real Estate Associates, which purchased a 139-acre campus for $ 65 million in 2002, has attracted approximately 20 tenants, including European defense contractor BAE Systems.

Arriving this summer is iM3NY, a startup that manufactures lithium-ion batteries.

The company’s electric vehicle-powered product has 12 full-time employees, but expects to reach 2,000 within six years, said Paul Stratton, senior vice president. His company uses two buildings at IBM, including a 300,000-square-foot-high space that was once used to ship circuit boards.

“There is great potential for change here,” said Christopher Pelto, president of Huron, about the complex, which has a 65 percent occupancy.

If Pelto someday achieves his goal of having 5,000 workers on Endicotte’s site, from today’s 4,000 to 15,000 employees will be well below IBM’s early 1980s peaks where it struggled. ..

However, some residents, according to Marlene Yacos, who worked for IBM for 35 years before being fired in 2004, have a more pressing problem of preserving some of the dilapidated structures. , Says that it is a regular recollection of the glorious days of the village. Her father worked there for 44 years.

“They just sit there,” said Yacos, Executive Director of the Endicotte Center for Historical Heritage. “And they have been our legacy for over 100 years.”

Renewal of IBM campus, home of punched cards and circuit boards

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