Press-Republican

November 10, 2013

Old Stone Barracks for sale again

By JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The historic Old Stone Barracks property is up for sale again.

The asking price is $400,000.

“It’s a beautiful property, and you can do a lot with it,” said Carlos Tacheco, the property manager for Montreal businessman Bernard Schneider, who bought the barracks two years ago.

Schneider paid $35,000 for the property, which stirred controversy in the community. The building, built in 1838 by the U.S. Army, sits on the grounds of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

The Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. tried to sell the building after the base closed in 1995, but could find no takers until Schneider made an offer.

RESTRICTIONS

Because the building is on the National Historic Register, there are severe restrictions as to what a developer may be able to do with it.

Schneider originally thought of building apartment complexes on the 7.75-acre site, but community objection nixed that plan.

He said at the time that he would consider working with any historic group that wanted to develop and preserve the barracks.

The Battle of Plattsburgh Association had considered purchasing the property, but backed out after they learned that a $200,000 federal grant they were seeking would not be available.

FOR SALE OR RENT

Tacheco said Schneider, who is elderly, tried to make something work, but couldn’t.

“He thinks someone younger might be able to do something with it,” Tacheco said.

A large sign with red letters on a white background appeared recently on the west side of the barracks just off Route 9 advertising the building for sale or rent.

The property was assessed at $775,300 at the time of the sale.

‘FEDS SHOULD TAKE IT’

Clarence Hall, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran who lives in Morrisonville, was distressed to see the Barracks for sale once again.

“I think the federal government should take care of it,” he said, “just as sure as they take care of Fort Knox.” 

His father, the late John Wesley Hall, was assigned to Plattsburgh when he joined the Army at 17 in 1937, when the Barracks facility was still in use.

“I think of all of the young men who served there,” Clarence said. “Their house is for sale.

“That should be hallowed ground.”

PROPERTY RE-ASSESSED

When Schneider bought the property, several local historic groups complained that the sale price was way too low, and it should have been sold to someone local.

Since the sale, the property has been re-assessed at $185,000, according to City of Plattsburgh Assessor Derek Rosenbaum.

He said the high assessment was probably never challenged because the property was exempt from taxes. But after he bought it, Schneider presented a survey of the property that showed its value was limited because of the development restrictions.

‘HIGH COST TO RENOVATE’

Rosenbaum said the inside of the building is basically gutted, and the amount of money needed to perform any improvements would be extremely high, which impacted the value.

“It would take so much to put into it,” he said.

The property was re-assessed for the 2012 tax year. The tax bill for city, school and county taxes is about $7,100 per year.

Tacheco said the $400,000 asking price is fair because of the potential of the building.

“It’s a beautiful building. The Army did such a good job when they built it. It will last another 500 years,” he said.

‘NEEDS VISION’

Matt Boire, who constructed a Facebook page entitled Save Plattsburgh’s Historic Old Stone Barracks, said he would like to see a local historic group make a bid for the building.

“I wish something would happen with it sooner rather than later, because just sitting there is not doing it any favors,” he said.

“All it would take is some dedicated people with some vision, and it can happen. It might not happen overnight, but it can happen,” he said.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com