FULTON, NY – A representative of the global supermarket chain, Aldi, has confirmed that the impending store location in Fulton will prevail despite the city’s demolition contractor backing out of the commitment to demolish the former Nestles site in its entirety.
“We will still pursue the Fulton, NY location with plans for a grand opening in late fall,” said Aldi representative Aaron Sumida, Tully Division Vice President.
Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. was adamant that Aldi’s interest had not waivered despite recently developed news of the contractor, Infinity Enterprises, backing out of their commitment to demolish the former Nestles site of Fulton and he remains optimistic of the project’s future.
Infinity agreed to clear the 24 acre site located at 555 S. Fourth St. in October of 2015, offering to complete the project at no cost to the city, only rights to all salvageable material on the site.
This became one of the issues that caused the abrupt stop to the project after 75% of the buildings on the site had been taken down, according to Mayor Woodward.
“It was a combination of two things,” Woodward explained. “First, the bid was based on reselling the scrap steel within the property, the cost for that is the lowest it’s ever been so it’s no longer financially beneficial to him. Second, his asbestos license ran out at the end of April. He’s reapplied but has not yet cleared anything.”
As per the original deal, Infinity began the project with priority on the roughly 2 acre site designated for Aldi on the corner of Fay and South Fourth streets. The contractor has abandoned the project after having removed all buildings from the Aldi site.
The remaining work to ensure the site is build ready for Aldi includes removing debris left on the site and bringing the site to grade.
City officials are connecting with local trucking contractors to accept bids to remove the debris from site and bring it to the landfill, as well as negotiating with National Contracting to bring the site to grade.
The city had previously purchased “a couple hundred thousand” dollars worth of fill at a discounted price from Infinity Enterprises to be used to bring the site to grade. The crushed brick can be used as fill for the parking area intended for Aldi while gravel will be used as fill for the building after having been screened.
Woodward said the costs associated with new contractors could be taken off the sale price for Aldi just as the sale price was previously reduced $100,000 after discovering that Aldi will need to purchase pilings, bringing the sale price to $350,000.
However, the city recently bonded for $700,000 for demolition of city owned properties that could be used for the former Nestles site as well.
Mayor Woodward is hopeful to have received all bids by the end of the week, noting that there has been interest from some local contractors as well as some contractors that are not local.
At this point, the focus remains on developing the site designated to Aldi before moving on to the remaining buildings left standing on the 24 acre site.
One remaining structure, a building to the south that does not line State Route 481, may remain standing as Woodward said he believes it to be in usable condition given some work.
However, the remaining building that does line State Route 481 must be taken down within three months after the contract closes with Aldi, a project that will be bid separately at that time, Woodward said.
Ultimately, Mayor Woodward is not displeased with the course of demolition and is optimistic of the site’s continued demolition.
“If we had paid this contractor four million dollars, people would be happy but because he offered to do it for free, people will complain. I always question the way of thinking when it comes to that. We are the only community around that has taken on a project of this size. I couldn’t see 24 acres of vacant buildings just sitting for 20 more years, that’s not good for the city,” he said.
Sumida and Woodward both confirm that at this time the contract between Aldi and the city of Fulton has not yet been amended but plans to construct a store in 2017 are still under way.
“At the end of the day, we will have a nice, new store on the tax rolls that will bring a few jobs and give the east side of the city a grocery store option,” Woodward said.