No Bids For Civic Center

Aug 18, 2014

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

City officials had hoped the Glens Falls Civic Center would be sold,  but it did not happen Monday.

After no potential bidders stepped forward, Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond spoke to the crowd of curious city residents and the media.

“It’s officially 11:01. We have not received any pre-bids. The Council will be in the coming weeks evaluating other options," said Diamond.

With an operating deficit at $1.3 million and costing the city around $600,000 a year, the longtime home to minor league hockey and high school basketball tournaments is no longer something the City of Glens Falls can support.

Mayor Diamond had hoped the city could place the Civic Center in private hands with the auction.

“We had about 12 interested parties in regards to the purchase of the building. I met with several of them independently. Unfortunately none of them have come today," said Diamond.

The mayor said the city will not make a decision on what will happen to the Civic Center this week. Options include scheduling another auction, or negotiating a deal with some of the other interested parties.

The Coalition to Save our Civic Center, a group of business owners and community members, has raised more than $600,000 in the past two weeks. Peter Aust, President and CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is facilitating the Coalition, said the group doesn’t have a final plan on how they’ll use the money,  but they’d like to keep it a regional asset.

“I think the culture that the Glens Falls Civic Center has established in its 35-year history in the greater Glens Falls region and the North Country has really been significant for our region, and we want to contineu to keep that culture," said Aust, "and hopefully there's a way with private sector investment and public sector commitment that we can continue to do that."

In June Queensbury developer Richard Schemerhorn made a $750,000 offer to purchase the property.

Brian Petrovek, president of the Adirondack Flames hockey team had been hoping to partner his company with Schemerhorn on the deal.

“I always thought of an auction being risky for all parties and we don't have to worry about that anymore," said Petrovek. "So now it gives an opportunity for the private sector in whatever form it takes to have a conversation with the city and see if we can get a deal done."

Under the terms of sale, whoever owns the Civic Center must honor the contract with the American Hockey League team, set to begin their first season at the arena in eight weeks.

Ten days earlier, members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Occupancy Tax Committee rejected a proposal to halt the auction, however, many agreed that the Civic Center remains a regional asset, and would like to see it continue.

As discussions move forward, Mayor Diamond said he’d like the city to decide what to do with the Civic Center before the budgeting process for 2015 begins.

“My goal is to have the operating cost of this building out of taxpayers' hands in Glens Falls in the year 2015," said Diamond. "That process will allow us to start to develop a budget in October or November, so we've got to move rather quickly. My timeline is quick."

The City will continue to pay to keep the Civic Center in operation, and will continue to make upgrades to the property until it is sold.