Pfizer

The Pfizer plant in Rouses Point has been sold to ERS Investments of New York City. 

ROUSES POINT — The pharmaceutical plant sitting idle here has been sold to New York City company ERS Investments.

"They are excited by the opportunities for redevelopment at the site," said North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas.

That firm, he said, specializes "in properties with strong transportation connections and with particular interest in cross border logistics."

ERS will be releasing further information soon, he said.

"We look forward to a collaborative relationship between the ERS team and the area, including facilitation of strategic contacts north of the border.

HOUSING MARKET

Rouses Point Mayor Tom Batha thinks the purchase is great news for the community.

"It finishes the uncertainty of the last two years of what the state of the property will be," he said. "It will be good to get jobs back and get the real estate market back here."

When the pharmaceutical plant was fully functioning, home sales had boomed in the village.

"When I was mayor before, 20 years ago, we did three major (housing) developments in the village," Batha recalled, listing Beacon Heights, one on Edgewater and the development of Trahan Drive.

"All those houses are like $200,000 homes or better. (But)since they've closed that (Pfizer) plant, there's always a dozen homes for sale."

If ERS is successful with redeveloping the property, Batha said, "maybe we'll start building homes again, (and it will be) easier for people to sell their homes and get decent prices for them."

LIBERAL ZONING

The property is zoned "industrial," he said.

"So it has the most liberal zoning classification there is as far as what you can build from it," he said.

Though the mayor said he hadn't spoken to ERS directly, he believes it plans to demolish a majority of the buildings on the property and then sell individual lots to various companies.

"It's my understanding that they are going to start taking the buildings down by (next) summer," he said.

INFRASTRUCTURE SET

The structures seem to be in good condition, Batha said, but their specialized design doesn't allow use for other purposes.

They are in the process of being emptied, the mayor said.

"All of the pharmaceutical equipment has to be removed," he said. "You can see up there they've knocked holes in the side of buildings to get big pieces of equipment out.

"There were numerous auctions on items, but what's left, I guess, is considered non-salable.

Batha said a major highlight to the property is its access to utilities.

Rouses Point operates its own municipal lighting department and features bargain rates on electricity. And there are a substation and water tower that were built to handle the pharmaceutical plant's needs.

"Things are all ready to go," he said.

Batha said ERS Investments sounds like a perfect fit for the Rouses Point property.

"You couldn't ask for a better scenario," he said.

"Things could change, but for right now, I see nothing but good news."

Champlain Town Supervisor Larry Barcomb was happy to hear a buyer has come along for the Pfizer property.

"I'm glad it's been sold," he said. "Hopefully, it will bring a lot of jobs to the area."

ASSESSMENT

The value of the Pfizer property is also on the minds of the governments that collect taxes from it.

The expectation had been that Pfizer might raze the remaining buildings, which would been cause to lower the property value while it awaited a buyer.

While it appears ERS would do the same, Batha said, it would be with the expectation of development to come.

"Since they're an international conglomerate," he said, "they've got contacts all over the world."

According to the Clinton County Real Property website, the property at 64 Maple St. is assessed at $13,625,000, which is also its market value.

The land alone, 35.61 acres, is assessed at $1,068,300.

Rouses Point collects about $65,000 in property tax from Pfizer, Batha said, and a reduction from that sum would be manageable.

The Town of Champlain, Northeastern Clinton School District and Clinton County get considerably more, he noted.

The Clinton County Clerk's Office had no record that Pfizer had changed hands; no further information, including the sale price of the property, was available Monday.

LONG GOOD-BYE

Pfizer, which shut down at the end of 2017, seems to fit the description of properties that attract the real estate development firm.

"We view shuttered or curtailed industrial and energy sites as opportunities to create and improve entire areas," ERS says on its website.

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals owned and operated the drug facility in 2005, when with about 1,250 employees, it was the largest private employer in Clinton County — and its impending closure was announced.

Then, shutdown was projected for sometime in 2007, but was later delayed.

Pharmaceutical firm Akrimax bought the Wyeth facility in Rouses Point in January 2008; Pfizer purchased all of Wyeth in October 2009, leasing space from Akrimax to produce its own drugs.

In June 2011, Pfizer exercised an option to take back the Rouses Point plant from Akrimax; the fledgling drug maker hadn't succeeded as planned.

Employees for Pfizer continued to turn out pharmaceutical products there, however. As of September 2016, 120 workers remained; by late November 2017, the number had dwindled to about 80.

The plant was decommissioned earlier this year.

MAXIMIZE POTENTIAL

According to the website, ERS "is a real estate development firm whose principal competency lies in the repositioning of distressed, environmentally challenged properties.

"Our focus is to transition properties back to productive use and maximize their economic development potential.

"Our developments attract new jobs and investments to the communities where they are located.

"ERS is one of the world's leading investors and developers of contaminated real estate. We have nearly 20 years of experience delivering innovative warehousing, distribution, terminal, and manufacturing facilities.

"Our sustainable redevelopment projects have played a transformative role in bringing productive use back to sites across North America that were long considered blights to the communities they are situated."

Also, the site says, "ERS is among the foremost pioneers of environmentally sustainable developments. We are committed to delivering high-quality buildings that are less expensive to operate and maintain, that also meet and exceed the world's most stringent sustainable development standards."

CREATIVE WAYS

And the company says it thinks outside the box.

"ERS' concentration on transportation-based industries allows us to redevelop properties in creative ways rarely considered by others.

"As the nation constantly transitions, we are committed to developing properties for businesses that think ahead and provide for all."

Email Suzanne Moore:

smoore@pressrepublican.com

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