Land Will Be Cornerstone of Rail Yards Redevelopment and Dynamic Shovel-Ready Site

April 10, 2017 (ONEONTA, NY) – The newly created local development corporation, Oneonta Rail Yards (“ORY”), has closed on approximately 80 acres of land surrounding the Norfolk Southern rail yards in the City of Oneonta. ORY, a subsidiary of Otsego County’s economic development organization, Otsego Now, plans to move aggressively towards shovel-ready status for any and all of the developable land, and will initiate environmental reviews of the property immediately. Senator James L. Seward said, “Oneonta’s rail yards were a vital part of our region’s past and are set to be reborn as a central hub of our future economic growth. Otsego Now’s leadership has us on the right track with high-quality jobs and enhanced economic activity in the City of Oneonta and the entire region on the horizon. The promise of the rail yards is significant, and the development plans fit in well with so many other budding initiatives. I look forward to working with all of our economic partners as this project advances.”

The rail yards, home to the world’s largest roundhouse in the early twentieth century, have languished over the past several years, including neglectful uses of the promising future site of economic activity. Otsego Now, however, sees strong potential to develop most of the newly acquired acreage into shovel-ready sites supporting a variety of potential logistical uses and job creation. Further, some of the acreage could be developed into workforce housing, connecting an important workforce to the sites and allowing for walkable commutes.
Assembly Bill Magee remarked, “Food and beverage innovation is an increasingly big part of Oneonta’s economic engine, so the redevelopment of the rail yards’ site will hopefully bring more food and beverage producers to our area. I fully support Otsego Now’s investment in this redevelopment, and will do everything I can to help push this project along and create as many jobs as possible.”

Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig lauded Otsego Now’s investment in the property, stating, “A recent report by the NYS Comptroller indicates that job growth in our area has been confined to predominantly lower wage service industry jobs. Otsego Now’s efforts to develop the Oneonta rail yards represent our best opportunity to bring good paying jobs to the City of Oneonta. These jobs will be key in supporting Governor Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative award to Oneonta. I applaud the efforts of the staff and board members of Otsego Now to create quality jobs for the people of Oneonta and I wholeheartedly support their efforts.”

With its proximity to Interstate 88, access to abundant water and wastewater resources, and presence just steps away from Oneonta’s increasingly vital downtown, the redeveloped site will be a dynamic locale for a variety of different industries and uses. Otsego Now Chairman Devin Morgan observed, “We are early in the redevelopment of the rail yards, but with this investment we hope to communicate to the community and our partners, like Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development, and, hopefully, the U.S. Department of Transportation, that this is an important project to catalyze growth in our region and bring rail back to playing an important role in the local economy. It only adds to the excitement we feel about the Downtown Revitalization award and progress on the Food Hub and a redeveloped Market Street. Oneonta is poised for some great opportunities.”

CEO Alexander “Sandy” Mathes, Jr., commented, “We plan to utilize the significant rail infrastructure here to create economic opportunity for all citizens in the Otsego County and the greater region. Our overall strategy combines workforce and skills development with the attraction of targeted sectors such as food processing, advanced manufacturing and distribution. Redevelopment of the rail yards is one of the cornerstones of our economic development strategy.”

Otsego Now’s purchase of the rail yards property is tied to the kickoff of an update of the City’s comprehensive plan and a detailed housing analysis, led by Lisa Nagle, principal of Elan Planning in Saratoga Springs. “We are excited to begin this work,” Ms. Nagle stated. “Coordinating this effort with the redevelopment of the rail yards will position the City for a bright and prosperous future.”

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Otsego Now is an umbrella economic development organization made up of the County of Otsego Industrial Development Agency (COIDA), the Otsego County Capital Resource Corporation (OCCRC), and the Otsego Now Regional Workforce Training Center. COIDA is a non-profit public benefit agency, and OCCRC is a local development corporation. Both organizations share a mission to facilitate the creation of new job opportunities in the county, both by helping existing businesses expand and by attracting new businesses. COIDA and OCCRC are governed by the actions of their Board of Directors, who are appointed by the Chair of the county legislature. The agencies comprising Otsego Now are self-funded and are not offices or departments of the Otsego County government.