Tuesday May 7, 2013

Former Nestle Site in Fulton May Feature Student Housing

Owner indicates plans to tear down, reconstruct former chocolate plant
By Lou Sorendo

    There may be a sweet future in store for the former Nestle Co. site in Fulton after all.

    While thoughts of returning to its former role as a chocolate-maker has melted, the plant is now in the hands of an owner who has plans to revive the site.

    The owner is Ed Palmer of Carbonstead LLC. Palmer resides in Phoenix.

    Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said Palmer is in the process of tearing down Building 95, one of the last structures that Nestle built.

    A multi-story building, Building 54, is being considered for student housing, Woodward said.

    The Nestle Co. site is assessed at about $5 million, Woodward said.

    Woodward said a student housing complex at the site would provide an economic development boost “if it comes to fruition.”

    “Another developer wanted to do the same thing but Mr. Palmer turned him down,” he said.

    Palmer also indicated that several retailers have expressed interest in relocating to the site, the mayor noted.

    Woodward said he is cautious about the development, primarily from a financing standpoint.

    “I would like to see something that will create jobs. We need them desperately,” Woodward said. The county’s unemployment rate is hovering at about 12 percent.

    Woodward added he would like to see some preservation of the history that Nestle Co. left in the city. The company began production in Fulton more than 100 years ago.

    Palmer, however, gave no indication that he intended to pursue that initiative, Woodward said.

    Palmer was unavailable to comment on this story.

    County view

    “The concept of potential student housing as a component of redevelopment has been considered by one developer to date,” said L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County, the county’s designated economic development agency.

    “However, at this time there is no developer locked in on the property. It is under consideration but circumstances are restricting progress from being made,” Treadwell said.

    Treadwell said nothing definite is happening at Nestle to date, “other than we have witnessed interest and in general the concept tends to be a mixed-use idea with potential student housing, apartments, retail space, offices and perhaps some manufacturing.”

    The future ongoing development of Cayuga Community College’s Fulton campus will have a dramatic impact on the community and would drive potential development of business ventures, Treadwell said.

    “Of course, student housing brings to town consumers to help support such activities,” he said.

    CCC President Daniel Larson declined to comment on the issue.

    In 2003, after more than 100 years in Fulton, Nestle closed the factory citing the costs to restore and update the old location were out of reach.

    Subsequent to the closing of the Nestlé plant, investors from Côte d'Ivoire purchased the chocolate factory and attempted to reopen it as New York Chocolate and Confections Company. The company would later file for bankruptcy.