QUEENSBURY - State officials should reduce the price drastically on the castle-like Army National Guard armory in Glens Falls so it will be sold and put back to use soon to generate local tax revenue, a regional economic development guru said Monday.
Warren County Economic Development Corp. President Len Fosbrook said he was disappointed the state Office of General Services officials set a minimum bid at $500,000 for the historic, imposing structure that months ago local developer Peter Hoffman had offered to buy for far less and develop into an office building.
Fosbrook said he was frustrated the state officials entertained the offer, but then set the minimum bid far higher for a public auction Oct. 21 at which only one bidder attended, but declined to buy the brick-and-stone building at the $500,000 price set by the state.
Complete with towers and turrets, balconies and soaring arches, the Glens Falls Armory has served for decades as the Army National Guard headquarters. The Warren Street building, built in 1895, became vacant earlier this year when the National Guard moved its operations to a new building in Queensbury.
Fosbrook said the state's high price meant the armory could be mothballed for months or years, obstructing much-needed economic activity on Warren Street, while the state waits for a turnaround in the real estate market so they could get a little more for the building.
"To wait and attempt to maximize the sale price for a few dollars in the short run is very short-sighted and ignores the economic development needs that exist," Fosbrook said. "It makes good business sense to get offices the building and place it back on the tax rolls."
Queensbury Supervisor Fred Champagne complained that the state was acting arbitrarily to routinely hand out business incentives worth millions of dollars, yet stonewall a sale that would boost the local economy to perhaps gain several thousand dollars while the building would deteriorate.
"The state might as well hand it over now for $1," he said.
Fosbrook and his audience of nearly a dozen Warren County supervisors Monday at a county meeting said they'd likely be lobbying the state to sell the building for $250,000 so it can boost the local economy rather than drag it down.
Retired New York City firefighter Rocco Musumeci was the only person registering to bid on the Glens Falls Armory. He brought along a $50,000 deposit required to purchase the building at its minimum bid price, but apparently decided not to purchase the building at the set price when no other bidders showed up.
Musumeci has said he might rehabilitate the armory as a home for disabled veterans or for children with developmental disabilities.
Attending the auction were investors and real estate brokers, several other developers including Hoffman - and an official of the Hyde Collection, which is situated next door.
Some have suggested that considering the building's imposing architecture, The Hyde would be an appropriate new owner if they sought to expand their art collections and exhibition space.