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Two firms finalize leases at Oswego Township Caterpillar plant

Two firms have finalized leases to rent space at the former Caterpillar Inc., plant near Montgomery, Charlene Coulombe-Fiore, executive director of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation, said.

Reich Brothers Inc., a White Plains, New York-based firm that specializes in redeveloping industrial properties, purchased the 4-million-square-foot plant on Route 31, just south of the village, from the heavy equipment manufacturer for $68.5 million last March.

Reich Brothers has since renamed the property “The Grid” and is marketing it as an industrial park to new users.

In a presentation to the Village Board Monday evening, Jan. 25, Coulombe-Fiore said a manufacturing firm will occupy a 170,000-square-foot portion of the plant, while a trucking firm will use a 10-acre portion of a parking lot on the plant site for truck parking.

Meanwhile, Coulombe-Fiore said that Capterpillar, which first opened the plant in 1957, has leased back 100,000 square feet of the plant for its own operations and has kept 500 engineering and some product support jobs on-site.

Coulombe-Fiore said four other firms have completed tours of the plant over the past several months.

“That, to me, says a lot as far as the economy goes. We do have activity in manufacturing. Montgomery has proven to be able to draw labor,” she said.

In a related matter, Richard Young, the Montgomery community development director, told board members that negotiations are continuing over an annexation agreement for the unincorporated plant site, which encompasses 350 acres west of Route 31.

After Reich Brothers announced the purchase of the plant, Village President Matt Brolley confirmed the village’s interest in annexing the plant site to assist Reich Brothers in its marketing efforts. In exchange for the annexation, Brolley said the village could offer municipal water service and may entertain the creation of a tax increment financing district. The village also could assume ownership of Caterpillar Drive, which links Route 31 and Orchard Road, under the terms of an annexation agreement, Brolley confirmed. As a private road, the four-lane Caterpillar Drive, currently is open only to vehicles accessing the plant.

Young said the village board could host a public hearing on a draft annexation agreement in March or April.

In other business news, Coulombe-Fiore said she was aware of only two businesses that have closed in the village because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that many businesses are doing better than expected.

She noted that three restaurants have opened in the village despite the pandemic, and four industrial buildings along Aucutt Road have been sold over the last six to seven months.

“That means we end up with new jobs, new businesses and new people in the community,” Coulombe-Fiore said.

Board member Doug Marasek thanked and praised Coulombe-Fiore for working to assist local businesses in securing loans to remain in business amid the pandemic and for continuing to advocate for both employers and those seeking jobs.

“Thank you on behalf of the Village Board,” he said, adding, “You’ve worked hard in trying to get everything rolling in the right direction here.”

Although the past several months have been challenging, Coulombe-Fiore said she remains optimistic about the village’s business climate.

“It’s always very difficult for me to look at the bad side of things, because there is always an opportunity there,” she said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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