Wal-Mart says no to to Butternuts deal


By Jim Poole

The deal that would have turned the former Guilford Mills plant into a brewery suffered a steep setback last week.
Wal-Mart chose not to be a tenant in the old Cobleskill factory, which means Longhouse Holdings and Butternuts Beer and Ale must find another tenant.
With the prospect of bringing 60 jobs to the area, Longhouse has been trying to buy the county-owned Guilford plant for months. A key to the sale was locking in a tenant, which would have improved chances for Longhouse to get $1.2 million in financing.
That $1.2 million would have been used to upgrade the building for the new tenant; until last week, that tenant was to have been Wal-Mart.
"Wal-Mart told me the property had too many challenges," said Schoharie County Planning Director Alicia Terry.
Wal-Mart wanted to be in the Guilford building August 1, and the "challenges" included getting financing and making the upgrades in time for that deadline, Ms. Terry said.
The county Board of Supervisors in June rejected Longhouse's request to hold a second mortgage that would have improved odds of meeting the deadline, she said.
Now, Longhouse is exploring other funding options, "and there wasn't going to be enough time," Ms. Terry said.
The brewery is "back to square one in finding another tenant," she added.
Finding another tenant is essential not only for securing $1.2 million in financing but also in finding additional funding to complete the $2.5 million sale from the county and making additional repairs.
Although this is a setback--and maybe a serious one--Ms. Terry's office continues to work with Longhouse to find a new tenant, Ms. Terry said.
"And the county still has a valid purchase contract with Longhouse," she said.
Supervisors set an October 15 deadline for the deal to close.
Wal-Mart planned to use the space as a distribution center from August through December for up to 60 jobs. The company chose a Glens Falls site instead, Ms. Terry said.
"From my perspective, that's 40 to 60 jobs that will be in Glens Falls," she said.
Even though the jobs would have been for only five months, people looking for work would have welcomed the opportunity, Ms. Terry added.
And, she said, having the lights on and activity at Guilford would have been attractive to a more permanent tenant.
"Good for Glens Falls, bad for us, in more ways than one," Ms. Terry said.