Cherry works to market Guilford Mills


By Jim Poole

Guilford Mills has been in Bill Cherry's hands for little more than a week, and he's already working on marketing the long-empty factory.
Schoharie County supervisors earlier this month authorized Mr. Cherry, the county treasurer, to take over the sales effort after the failed deal with Butternuts Beer and Ale.
Butternuts had agreed to buy the county-owned plant in December 2011 for $2.5 million but couldn't meet supervisors' deadline of this past October 18.
Mr. Cherry's first step was to sever the agreement with real estate agent Jack Kelley of Coldwell Banker Commercial Properties, who represented the county--and Butternuts--in negotiations.
"It wasn't in my hands five minutes when I left him a voice message that his contract had expired with Schoharie County," Mr. Cherry said.
He believed that by representing both sides in the talks, Mr. Kelly suffered a conflict of interest.
Mr. Cherry started working with the international real estate firm CBRE.
"I want realtors to say what it's worth, its present value as it sits," Mr. Cherry said of Guilford.
"The most important thing is a market analysis to figure out the best way to market it."
Finding one buyer who would take the entire 460,000-square-foot building is unlikely. Butternuts planned to buy the whole building, use part of it and rent the rest to other businesses.
One option, Mr. Cherry said, might be to subdivide Guilford Mills and sell it in pieces.
Or the county could pay for repairs to make the plant more attractive, he said.
"If we spend some money and get somebody in there with some jobs, even if we just break even, that's a plus," Mr. Cherry said.
If finding a buyer is difficult, the county could lease all or part of the building, he added.
"I can't speak for the Board of Supervisors, but I'm open to any possibility," Mr. Cherry said.
"Once we get the lights on and cars going in and out of the driveway, we'll generate more interest in it."