TU: Fulton County shows off business park, medical marijuana tenant

If your business is anything like a medical marijuana facility, economic developers in Fulton County want you to know they have a perfect location for it.

You don’t have to be making medicines from plants that were until recently illegal to grow. Fulton County officials are looking for businesses that need lots of affordable space in a secure, remote location with access to a workforce that has a wide range of education and skills. That’s what Vireo Health of New York, one of five medical marijuana companies operating in the state, got when it moved into the 213-acre Tryon Technology Park two years ago.

“Fulton County has been a terrific partner for us,” Vireo Chief Executive Ari Hoffnung said Wednesday at a county event pitching the site of a former state juvenile detention center to a couple dozen real estate brokers.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Fulton County Planning Director James Mraz said of Vireo’s location.

As the unique business park’s only tenant, Vireo was a natural selling point. Real estate brokers got a rare tour of the strictly regulated facility.

They got to see an outdoor greenhouse and indoor grow rooms where horticulturists carefully control the light and temperature of plants whose oils are extracted for medicines to treat 11 debilitating conditions approved by the state.  They got to peek into the laboratory where the medicines are made, in different formulations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a mind-altering ingredient, and cannabidiol (CBD), which has no psychoactive properties.

 Yet as an example of a thriving business, Vireo isn’t there yet. Hoffnung told county officials and real estate brokers that the firm has invested about $10 million in the operation, including 20 acres of land. But like the other four medical marijuana companies in New York, it has yet to break even.

That’s despite a huge boost — an increase in volume of more than 50 percent, according to Vireo Operations Director Nick Goran — since the state added chronic pain to its list of qualifying conditions less than three months ago. One impediment to growth, company officials said, is that too few doctors are registering to certify patients for medical marijuana. According to the state Health Department, 1,058 medical providers were registered as of last week.

The business park landed Vireo as a client without much work, Mraz said. The company found the park as the county was engaged in getting the facility ready to market, Mraz said.

Mraz raised an eyebrow when he told about first hearing of interest from a potential tenant that wanted to grow marijuana. But then he learned more about Vireo’s plans. “Ah, you’re a pharmaceutical company,” he said.

News: Estee demolition financing sought

Housing financing still up in the air

By MICHAEL ANICH, Leader Herald

CRG President and CEO Ron Peters said Friday he thought he would have heard by now from the state Division of Housing & Community Renewal.

He said the state will be announcing soon whether financing for Liberty Affordable Housing Inc. of Rome, Oneida County, will come to fruition.

“It may be in the next month,” Peters said.

The CRG owns the Estee building, which is destined for demolition anyway.

“We’re looking at taking the property down in any event, before the end of the year,” Peters said.

Liberty Affordable Housing has plans for an $8 million housing complex at the site of the former middle school facing North Main Street. The firm, which owns apartment complexes in Amsterdam and elsewhere in upstate New York, agreed in 2013 to buy the property. The company wants to tear down the vacant school and build a 37-unit apartment building.

But Liberty Affordable Housing’s purchase is contingent on funding from the state Division of Housing & Community Renewal. The company was unsuccessful in its first two applications, including last year when it sought $2 million in Housing Trust Fund Program funds and $800,000 from low income housing credit programs.

Liberty Affordable Housing’s purchase may also include the 39-unit Estee Commons on Fremont Street. It is the portion of the former school renovated into downtown apartments several years ago.

Liberty Affordable Housing’s contract with the CRG expires after this round of funding. The CRG estimates an $800,000 demolition cost.

The city has $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the property which must be spent by the year’s end. Along with other state funding, there is about $650,000 available toward demolition. The balance would hopefully come from other state funds, Peters says.

The state Division of Housing & Community Renewal’s regional office in Syracuse couldn’t be reached Friday for comment.

Razing the former Estee Middle School would be the second large demolition in the city this decade. In 2011, the abandoned First Baptist Church on South Main Street was demolished at a total cost around $500,000, most of it covered by state funds.

Reporter Michael Anich can be contacted by email at johnstown@leaderherald.com.

Remains of Vail Mills Drive-In to become office building

CMK & Associates has begun construction of a 2,800-square-foot office building at the site of the Vail Mills Drive-In. The Northville-based real estate company said its rapid growth since forming in 2008 prompted the expansion.vail mills

“We are thrilled to be expanding our fast-growing company once again,” said CMK broker/owner Christian Klueg. “Building an office at this site is not only momentous for us as a business, but we are also excited to be growing on the footprint of such a historic landmark.”

Klueg said CMK’s sales volume is up 35 percent over last year to date, with agents handling $24 million in sales volume under contract. The company expects to close $60 million in sales this year.

CMK Associates has offices in Northville, Burnt Hills, Amsterdam, Speculator and Johnstown, with more than 50 agents and staff. CMK agents and staff currently working in the CMK office across the street from Vail Mills will move into the new building when it is complete.

 A team from CMK Marketing, the real estate company’s sister agency, will move to the new building from an office in Northville. CMK Marketing also has an office in Clifton Park. The certified public accounting firm of LCS & Z, LLP will also be housed on the new site, in an adjacent office space.

“The opening of this new office is of great benefit to the entire CMK team,” said CMK principal broker Bryn Brown. “We plan to use the new facility for training and ongoing education, which will help keep us on top of our game and allow us to bring even greater value to our clients.”

 The drive-in opened in 1948 and has been closed since 1987. Land has been sold from the original parking field to neighboring businesses and developers. The marquee from the drive-in days remains on the property and has been used to advertise the sale of modular homes.

 CMK plans to restore the sign.