GHENT — Ginsberg’s Foods will most likely be forced to pay the Columbia Economic Development Corporation $280,000 in August under a provision in the company’s contract with the CEDC when the company bought property for $1 in 2015.
The CEDC voted in August 2015 to sell 33 acres on Route 66, across from the Gerald Simons Commerce Park, to Ginsberg’s for $1 as a way to spur economic development.
Ginsberg’s planned to build a warehouse under the condition that the warehouse would be up and running in three years.
Ginsberg’s must have the warehouse operational by August 2018 or the company will have to pay the CEDC the assessed value of the property at the time it was purchased — $280,000.
Ginsberg’s will most likely miss the August deadline, CEDC President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said at the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Economic Development Committee meeting Tuesday.
“The reality of the situation is that they will not meet their deadline,” Tucker said. “And they did not ask for an extension.”
“We will not have the project done by deadline,” Ginsberg’s Foods Vice President John Brusie said. “We will stand by and fulfill any requirements of us as part of the agreement with CEDC.”
Brusie refused to comment about the project or why the company was unable to complete it in the two years.
At the time of the sale, the CEDC paid the county $114,000, representing a portion of the property that was part of the commerce park.
The $1 sale created friction in the community.
In 2014, the citizens group GhentCANN, founded by former Ghent Councilwoman Patti Matheney, sent a complaint to the state Authorities Budget Office about the sale, which the group said violated a law requiring a public authority to dispose of property for fair market value following an open bidding process. The complaint also cited several conflicts of interest on the board.
The Authorities Budget Office ruled the transfer was within the law, but agreed that four board members had potential conflicts of interest.
Ginsberg’s Foods’ project was supposed to involve building several facilities on around 295,000 square feet of the land for warehousing, refrigerator storage, distribution and office space.
In August 2015, Columbia County was working on securing a $500,000 grant for Ginsberg’s Foods for racking of equipment for its new warehouse project.