Press-Republican

May 20, 2011

Old Stone Barracks sale finalized

Site's future still undecided

JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — The sale of the Old Stone Barracks to a Montreal developer has been completed, but the future of the historic site is still unknown.

A deal was hatched late last year between the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. and Bernard Schneider of BKS Properties in Montreal.

RESTRICTIONS

The 7.75-acre property off Route 9, which is assessed at $775,300, was to be sold for $35,000, stirring controversy in the community.

PARC maintained that it had been trying to sell the property since the base closed in 1995 but had no takers.

The historic site is bound by many state and federal restrictions as to what can be done with it, and renovations are expected to exceed $1 million.

The Battle of Plattsburgh Association had been working on a plan for two years to take the property and renovate the barracks into a museum, cafe and office space utilizing federal grants and funds from PARC.

But the group withdrew its plan last fall after it couldn't get bank loans in the soft economy.

PLANS UNCERTAIN

PARC entered an agreement with Schneider in December, and the deal was finalized this week.

Schneider has said that he is willing to work with any local group interested in restoring the barracks, which were built in 1832.

He initially had wanted to develop two apartment complexes on the property, but he abandoned those plans after people in the community protested.

Carlos Tacheco, Schneider's property manager, told the Press-Republican this week that he will give local people six months to come up with a plan for the barracks.

"Hopefully, the community can come up with something; if not, we will look for other ideas," Tacheco said.

GROUP WITHDRAWS

After several meetings earlier this year of local groups interested in the barracks, the Battle of Plattsburgh Association stepped forward and offered to take the lead in working with Schneider to restore the barracks.

But association leader Keith Herkalo said Thursday that his group will no longer be the lead actor in restoration plans.

Herkalo said they learned recently that a $200,000 federal grant they had been hoping for will not be awarded and that further funding from PARC has since dried up.

"That makes it really just about impossible from a cash-flow standpoint to get started on anything," Herkalo said.

The association, which is preparing for the 200th anniversary of the famous Battle of Plattsburgh in 2014, is offering to allow any local group to use its non-profit designation if it wants to pursue restoration plans, Herkalo said.

"We are willing to help in any way we can, but we've got a lot of other things we need to focus on right now."

Email Joe LoTemplio at: jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com