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Agency looks to partner with developer to transform former BAE site

TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) — Years after the 2011 flood ravaged the Southern Tier and took BAE Systems’ facility with it, plans are moving along to redevelop the empty site.

“It’s really one of the last large parcels of land that sits within our urban corridor of Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott,” explained Stacey Duncan, the Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development at The Agency, an economic development non-profit.

Duncan explained how it’s a prime plot for real estate due to its proximity to major roadways and community amenities. The plans map out 12-14 acres at 600 Main St. to be redeveloped.

“We’re really creating a brand new site within a site,” said Duncan. “We see the BAE site as a blank canvas.”

The multinational defense technology company moved its thousands of employees to the Huron campus in Endicott, after its facility was submerged in flood waters.

Two years after the U.S. Air Force cleared the site in 2016, leaving it as a fenced-in multi-acre property, Duncan said The Agency took it over. Through grant funding, which Duncan explained was secured by Senator Chuck Schumer, the development organization created a redevelopment plan, held stakeholder meetings, met with real estate developers and commercial business leaders to analyze what could suit the community best on the land.

Duncan said plans are looking at ways to incorporate residential, commercial and hospitality needs.

“Many of our concept plans that we reviewed and looked at do have multiple uses that could be a combination of residential, with some commercial maybe some high-tech or flexible office space that lends itself to high-technology companies or a mixture of housing, that could be amenable to the different market needs, the different demographics we have in the area,” explained Duncan looking at the various possibilities of opportunity, which she hopes can boost economic growth in the area.

Businesses nearby just hope the land can be utilized into something useful.

“Anything where it’s just not green space,” said Beth Bowen. She owns Purrfect Pets Grooming Salon across the street from the site. “It needs to be developed into something.”

She said she would like it turned into residential spaces or ways to attract business. “I’d like to see another mini mall with a lot of small businesses opening up again,” said Bowen explained how that area of the Town of Union is “hurting.”

The development strategy is almost complete, Duncan said the next step is distributing an express of interest report on March 1, which will include background details of the land. It will explain to potential developers what opportunities they have by building on the site. She said the land will be raised out of the floodplain, to prevent future flooding issues.

“It’s really giving a developer a leg up on what they want to do there,” said Duncan who added The Agency is looking for public funding and a developer to build an “innovative and dynamic project together.”

A required public hearing will take place on March 7 in the Town of Union, to go over land requirements with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Duncan said the site has been cleaned up to “residential standards,” if options go that direction.

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Michael Schwartz

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