Real Estate

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A deal has been signed that will bring new life to the former Pfizer research facility in the Town of Chazy.

Investors agree to buy Pfizer Chazy

By: DAN HEATH

CHAZY — Local investors will purchase the former Pfizer research facility in the Town of Chazy.

Empire State Development and Clinton County announced Monday that Clinton Industrial Development Acquisition LLC had entered into a contract with Victor and Stephen Podd of Northstar Private Capital LLC. Terms of the deal were not released.

The Podds are also the owners of Rouses Point-based Powertex, manufacturer of bulk-shipping equipment.

They plan to relocate their Sealiner manufacturing operation from Texas to Chazy, a move expected to create 22 jobs within a year.

Other portions of the building could be used for life science and bio-tech research and development, incubator space to attract university and hospital research programs and warehouse and distribution space, according to a press release from Empire State Development.

“This project would not have been possible without the help of the governor (Andrew Cuomo) and Empire State Development,” Stephen Podd said in the release, “as well as the Clinton County Industrial Development Agency/Clinton Industrial Development Acquisition LLC. We are also very thankful for the assistance we have received from Garry Douglas at the North Country Chamber of Commerce.”

‘SECOND CHANCES’

Victor Podd said he believes their redevelopment plan will bring needed jobs to the area.

“We also look forward to working with our friend Chazy Town Supervisor Staub Spiegel and thank him for his assistance,” he said.

Empire State Development CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said the plan “will help to revitalize the state through the introduction of new jobs and opportunities in high-tech, high-growth industries.”

It’s about second chances, said Trent Trahan, who chairs the boards of directors of Clinton County Industrial Development Agency and Clinton Industrial Development Acquisition LLC.

“When the County of Clinton IDA Board was first approached to consider taking on the marketing and eventual sale of the property, the former Pfizer facility was in danger of being sold off for scrap.

“Fast-forward one year, and now we are talking about the redevelopment of the site,” he said.

“Northstar, run by local business people, presented Clinton Industrial Development Acquisition with a solid business plan that includes multi-use development and, most importantly, job creation and investment.”

‘IMPERATIVE’

Pfizer acquired Wyeth in 2009. It announced it would close the Chazy, Rouses Point and Plattsburgh facilities in November of that year, resulting in the loss of more than 600 local jobs, including 300-plus in Chazy.

A plan to auction off the Chazy facility for demolition was averted after the Clinton County IDA formed Clinton Industrial Development in March 2012 and acquired the property in June for $1. The property was assessed at $12 million in 2012.

Empire State Development provided up to $1.2 million to maintain and market the facility for about two years. To date, $698,801 of that money has been spent.

IDA Executive Director Erin Hynes said the main goals of the project were twofold: to acquire the former Pfizer Chazy facility and maintain it for a period of time and to market it to a suitable user that would create jobs.

“The board knew getting the facility back into private hands was imperative, not only from an employment standpoint but from a community-investment standpoint, as well,” she said.

“This truly was a team effort from Gov. Cuomo and Commissioner Adams on down to the Clinton County Legislature, the chamber, the Town of Chazy, our marketing partners at CDC Real Estate and facility caretakers at Lake City Properties.”

JOBS CITED

The announcement brought a barrage of reaction from public officials.

Chamber President Garry Douglas said the transfer from Pfizer to Clinton Industrial Development Acquisition was done in the belief that additional time and marketing would bring that result.

“This valuable economic asset deserves an owner committed to productive new use, which this accomplishes. The Podd family have been quality developers and employers in the North Country for many years, and we now look forward to continuing to work with them to help attract good things to Chazy,” he said.

Congressman Bill Owens said redevelopment of the property is a big step forward.

“I look forward to assisting the redevelopment of this important local job-creation asset,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said turning the parcel of open property into jobs in the North Country has long been a top priority.

“This is welcome news and speaks to the high-quality workforce in Clinton County and leaders like Garry Douglas and the North Country Chamber of Commerce,” he said, adding that he would “look to aid in any further opportunities for growth.”

‘HIGH PRIORITY’

“We all eagerly look forward to seeing the redevelopment of the former Pfizer property, the strengthening of the local economy and the revitalization of a community that has faced more than its fair share of challenges these past several years,” State Sen. Betty Little said.

Assemblywoman Janet Duprey said the announcement is a testament to the vision of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and the Clinton County IDA regarding the facility’s importance to the region.

“I look forward to working with Victor and Stephen Podd on this project and commend them for their continued commitment to our region,” she said.

Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley said he was pleased marketing efforts were successful.

“Private-sector reuse of the facility was a high priority for the county, and we believe that the plan presented by Northstar not only shows their commitment to the community but a commitment to the economic redevelopment of a great site,” he said.

‘LEADING THE WAY’

Chazy Town Supervisor Staub Spiegel said he was excited to hear about the agreement.

“We will again see employment and development at this facility, which will certainly make many people in our area happy,” he said.

Chazy Central Rural School Superintendent John Fairchild said the announcement was good news for the district.

“A year ago, when the facility was transferred the CIDA, LLC, this is the exact type of reuse that was discussed. We are thankful that a local business is leading the way for revitalizing the former Pfizer research facility,” he said.

CDC Real Estate Vice President Matthew Boire said the Podd family and CDC founder Mark Barie have enjoyed a close working relationship for more than a quarter of a century.

“No one will work harder than Stephen and Victor Podd to make this a successful redevelopment project. We look forward to their success,” he said.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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