FULTON, NY – The former Nestles site that has stood in Fulton for more than a century has seen another demolition milestone as the overpass connecting buildings on opposite sides of Fay Street has been removed.
Just more than one year ago, Infinity Enterprises, based in Fulton, won the demolition bid for the 24-acre site, offering to complete the demolition for no charge to the city but instead with rights to all salvageable material on the site.
Throughout the year, concerns have been addressed on multiple occasions and interruptions have halted the anticipated progress, however a contract with supermarket chain, Aldi prevailed.
The original contract between the city of Fulton and Aldi guaranteed 2.5 acres of the site on the corner of South Fourth Street and Fay Street to be completely demolished and build ready for Aldi to construct their own building by June 1, 2016.
Due to interruptions mostly caused by unexpected asbestos removal and the lengthy process of safe removal, the completion date has faced push backs on numerous occasions.
Many residents of the city and elected officials have questioned whether Aldi’s interest will remain despite the delays in expected completion dates.
“I can tell you, they’re not going anywhere,” Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. said of Aldi’s interest in the site at a recent council meeting.
Mayor Woodward explained that an amended contract had been signed with Aldi, making only a few changes.
Of those changes, the date for completed demolition has been pushed back to the end of November and the sale price has dropped from $450,000 to $350,000.
Currently, the 2.5-acre area sits roughly five feet below ground level which needs to be brought up to grade as per the contract with Aldi.
Earlier this year, the Fulton Common Council approved the purchase of crushed brick from the site from Infinity Enterprises with the intent to bring the site up to grade using the crushed brick.
Core samples taken by geologists on behalf of Aldi resulted in findings that the crushed brick on site will not be able to be used under the building, instead, Aldi will need to purchase pilings.
“The original contract price was for $450,000 if we could provide a shovel ready site,” said Mayor Woodward. “They (Aldi) found they need to have pilings. The pilings are a little over $100,000 so we took that cost off the asking price.”
The city will use gravel to bring the building site to grade, laying a foot down at a time and then compacting it after each layer.
The crushed brick and concrete can be used for the area of the site that Aldi intends to use as a parking lot.
“We have something else in the wind that may recapture that ($100,000),” Woodward continued, although until there are more details worked out it won’t be discussed. “As far as the pilings go, we’re disappointed, we like to get as much as we can but at the same token, it’s understandable.”
With the overpass down, the focus will shift to the remaining buildings that line Fay Street to demolish and bring to grade for Aldi’s site.
The section of Fay Street between South Fourth and South Fifth streets will remain closed in the coming weeks as this work progresses.
“We’re on a tight schedule,” Woodward said, though he fully anticipates the site designated to Aldi to be completely prepared for Aldi by the end of November.
For many Fulton residents, seeing the demolition progress has been bittersweet.
“I could sit and cry,” said Joanne Weaver, Fulton resident for more than 30 years.
As a former Nestles employee, Weaver worked in Building 30 for many years, the building on the opposite side of Fay Street that the overpass connected to the main Nestles factory.
“I’ve walked miles over that ramp,” she said of the overpass. “It’s sad to see this all come down.”
Building 30 and the adjoining parking lot were bought in July 2015 by Gary E. Springs with the intent of opening a U-Haul warehouse and storage facility, although the building has yet to be opened for this purpose.
Lifelong Fulton resident, Paul Cardinali recalled many fine memories from his youth having grown up in the area.
“I’m torn. My grandfather came here in 1924, I can remember where the flat concrete is now (behind Nestles), I used to help my grandfather with his garden there. It’s a miss, but at the same time it’s a part of the natural change. I just wish they’d get it done so it would look a little more natural, as it sits now it’s like looking at dead remains,” he said.
While the demolition stirs up memories of Fulton’s rich industrial history, it also brings hope for new beginnings.
“I’m sad to see it come down, it’s been here for so long,” said Jim Myers, councilman of the fourth ward in which the building stands. “But the truth is, it’s never going to be a factory again. It’s time to look to the future and look forward to the progress.”
Video provided by Jim Myers