A 12-acre site in Farmington, which has languished on the market for nearly a decade, finally gets a new owner who plans to clean it up and develop it.
After many years on the market, a polluted 12-acre site once owned by Griffin Technology finally has a new owner.
S&W Redevelopment of North America, LLC, in Syracuse, purchased the land for an undisclosed sum a week ago. The tract is just northwest of where routes 332 and 96 meet.
S&W plans to finish cleaning up the contamination and develop the property, said Terence Maliga, the company's manager of project development.
"I'm happy. Any time you can clean up property and put it back to useful purposes is generally good news," said Farmington Town Supervisor Ted Fafinski. "I couch that in those terms because you don't know what the development plans are."
Maliga said it's highly unlikely industrial uses for the land will be pursued, but most other options would be considered.
"Since it will take us at least a year to get a certificate of (cleanup) completion, it (will) partially depend on what the needs of the marketplace are," Maliga said.
He also acknowledged the environmental work may take up to two years.
"We're funding this so we'd like to finish sooner rather than later," Maliga said. "It could cost up to a million dollars or more. We want to do it for less, of course, but we have to satisfy all of the state's requirements without taking shortcuts."
The pollution stems from solvents or other chemicals used by Griffin Technology, which operated a photocoating — or laminating — manufacturing business there from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The solvents seeped into the ground.
Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a consent order requiring the Ohio-based Griffin to address off-site contamination. A DEC spokeswoman said off-site remediation means the company is required to clean up contamination which has spread beyond the original site.
Griffin was acquired by Diebold, Inc., a manufacturer of automatic-teller machines, and when Diebold later tried to sell the property, the pollution was discovered. Diebold worked to clean up the site, but residual contamination deterred buyers.
"Some people weren't comfortable taking the project on, so it lent itself to brownfield development," said David Farrington, an agent for Pyramid Brokerage in Fairport, which handled the property sale.
The state Brownfield Development Program began a few years ago as a means of taking development pressure off of greenfields — or pristine sites — while concurrently cleaning up soiled property. No public grants or funds are provided.
The incentive for participants who complete the cleanup to the state's satisfaction is a certificate of completion, which provides liability protection and makes tax credits available. The certificate acts as a clean bill of health for a developer, but it can be modified or revoked by the state if there's reason to reopen the case.
Participants like S&W are referred to as volunteers, in that they voluntarily take on the cleanup of pollution they didn't cause.
The Farmington site made sense for S&W because it's a growing area, the price was right and the work doable, Maliga said — plus, publicly owned Diebold gets released from a burden.
S&W officials say the company has a 10-year track record of success in the niche business of environmental remediation and development, well before the state program began. Last year, S&W was responsible for earning a third of all the certificates of completion in New York — more than any other company.
"We make sure the sites are viable real estate," Maliga said. "We don't get involved with insurance settlements or legal action."
Billie Owens can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 320, or at email@example.com.