Ulster County is looking to develop a chunk of a megacampus where IBM once employed more than 7,000 people.
County officials announced Wednesday they would accept expressions of interest for two properties that make up a portion of former IBM research and development facilities.
The properties, now known as Enterprise West, include a 400,000-square-foot building with a 1,700-spot parking lot. The properties used to house Bank of America’s New York tax processing center. IBM manufactured mainframe computers there.
Ulster County acquired the two parcels in November 2019 out of tax foreclosure. Its previous owner, developer Alan Ginsberg, purchased the larger 252-acre campus in 1998 from IBM after the tech giant closed it.
Ginsberg renamed the campus TechCity and sought to transform it into a center of commerce, but struggled to fill the 1.7 million square feet of rentable space. In 2016 he fell behind on tax payments and by 2019 owed $3.3 million in taxes on the two sites. The other parcels — some of which are also in foreclosure proceedings — have more than $8 million in arrears, the Daily Freeman reported.
Photos of the property, provided as part of the county’s outreach, show the buildings are in various levels of decay. Cavernous carpeted floors with fluorescent-lit drop ceilings recall the ubiquitous cubicles of the 1980s and 1990s. Rusted pipes, peeling wallpaper and dust-covered filing cabinets reveal the buildings’ more recent history.
Ulster County is hoping to turn the page on the site’s past. In 2020 it was the setting for free movie showings. Ulster County aims to move forward with development as early as this year. Developers toured the facilities on Feb. 2, and responses are due by Feb. 26.
“This is a major step in unlocking the potential of this site, which has been dormant for far too long,” said Pat Ryan, the county executive. “I encourage all interested developers and businesses to … put forth their best concepts for how we can return this site to its former glory as a centerpiece of our economy.”
Ulster County is one of many places that has benefited from migration during the pandemic. Professionals priced out of New York City headed to the Hudson Valley — places like Kingston, Phoenicia and New Paltz — where rents are cheaper and accommodations are more spacious.
New York City landlords, too, have shown interest. One of its largest owners of rent-regulated housing, E&M Management, acquired a multifamily portfolio between 2016 and 2019 and set out to renovate apartments and raise rents — ruffling feathers in the process. The firm recently sold the portfolio to a crowd-funded investor partnership as part of a transaction totaling more than $100 million.
Correction: Ulster County, not the Town of Ulster, purchased two parcels that were once part of the IBM campus.