Tesla Planning Vehicle Parts Distribution Center In Newburgh; Orange County IDA CEO Defends Agency Processes; Briefs

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Tesla Planning Vehicle Parts Distribution Center In Newburgh

Tesla is planning to site a vehicle parts distribution center in a 927,000-square-foot building across Route 300 from the Newburgh Mall, just north of the westbound side of Interstate 84.

The facility is the larger of two that the New Jersey-based Matrix Development Group built on speculation on a site originally cleared for a new shopping mall proposed more than a decade ago but that never came to fruition.

Tesla will hire 150 employees working at the site by year-end, and eventually could employ as many as 300 workers, according to Maureen Halahan, president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Partnership.  It will serve Tesla throughout the Northeast, she said.

The Orange County Partnership, a nonprofit focused on attracting business development to Orange County, also said a Walgreens fulfillment center was being eyed for the other smaller warehouse.

Orange County Executive Steve Neuahus said having Tesla in Orange County will be an advantage for the local workforce. “Tesla is changing the automotive industry in America and abroad,” Neuhaus said in a statement. “Having a relationship with Tesla in Orange County can raise income levels for our area and create good jobs. It will also increase competition for our workforce and is another major name in the American economy choosing to come to Orange County.”

Tesla has been able to sell vehicles through retailers in New York City and Hudson Valley areas. For years, it has been aiming to expand its dealer footprint upstate.

Orange County IDA CEO Defends Agency Processes

Orange County IDA CEO Bill Fioravanti responded to an investigative report that lambasted the agency’s methods for handling PILOT applications for development projects.

Fioravanti defended the way the agency approves requests for PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) applications and development projects, including financial incentives and tax break deals, following the release of a critical report from a state Senate investigative committee.

“The facts (in the report) support that we’ve been doing things right — not perfect, but right, and absolutely by the letter of the law,” said Fioravanti.

The recently released 15-page report by the Senate’s Committee on Investigations and Government Operations investigated methods used by the Orange County IDA by comparing its practices to other New York State IDAs. It also led state Sen. James Skoufis, a Cornwall Democrat who heads the committee, to ask the Orange County district attorney to investigate Milmar, a Goshen-based, frozen-food business that was recently awarded a PILOT.

Defending its practices, Fioravanti said the agency requires verified financial reports from PILOT applicants. If a business does not hold up its end of the deal after a PILOT is awarded — such as not creating the number of jobs that were promised or closing the facility — the IDA has a policy that allows it to recapture those benefits.

Fioravanti has publicly stated that Skoufis, an outspoken critic of IDA PILOTs, has singled out the Orange County agency, which overhauled its leadership following a corruption scandal in 2021 involving the former CEO, a board member and a former managing director. Fioravanti said he and the new IDA board have operated with transparency.

The report claimed the agency inadequately scrutinized its PILOT application, though it did not accuse the agency of criminal or legal fault. The report focused on Milmar’s PILOT application, noting discrepancies in job creation. Milmar’s application, by Mack Bros., a related entity to Milmar Foods, estimated the expansion would cost $18 million and create about 50 jobs through the expansion. The company was granted a $2.7 million, 15-year PILOT last year that included about $2.25 million in property tax breaks and about $500,000 in sales and mortgage tax exemptions. The report showed the company fell short of its promises.

DEC and Open Space Institute Protect 261 acres Adjacent to Sundown Wild Forest in Catskills

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the acquisition of 261 acres adjacent to the Catskill Forest Preserve’s Sundown Wild Forest. The permanent protection of the land will preserve open space, protect critical drinking water sources that contribute to the quality of the New York City watershed, and expand recreational opportunities to support the local economy.

The purchase of the property, consisting of forested land along the east side of South Mountain in the Town of Olive, Ulster County, including a portion of the mountain’s summit, was made possible through a partnership with the Open Space Institute (OSI) and $666,500 from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

“Continuing to build upon the progress made in protecting this important natural corridor will help ensure clean drinking water in the New York City watershed while also providing new opportunities for outdoor recreation in the Catskills,” Commissioner Seggos said. “We are grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute as well as Dr. Sam and Delia Adams for their outstanding and ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship and dedication to preserving the beauty of the Catskills for all.”

The South Mountain property is located within the Ashokan Reservoir watershed and connects to other lands conserved by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to protect water quality. More than 90 percent of New York City’s water supply comes from the Catskill and Delaware watershed, located more than 100 miles north of the city.

The protection of the land lays the groundwork for the creation of new public access points for two popular hiking destinations from a public road, opening additional wild areas. Additional access points, allowing for eastern access to South Mountain from High Point Mountain Road, could be used to relieve pressure on popular trailheads and summits. South Mountain rises 2,190 feet high near the west shore of the Ashokan Reservoir and is connected to the 3,091-foot Ashokan High Point Mountain by a ridgeline.

The new acquisition adds to the 30,100-acre Sundown Wild Forest, which covers a large swath of the southeast Catskills, including several ridges and 10 mountains over 2,000 feet.

OSI initially purchased the newly conserved property in 2019 from Dr. Sam and Delia Adams, whose family owned the land since the Hardenbergh Patent of the 1700s. DEC and OSI worked together to accommodate the Adams’ desire to retain their farmhouse and adjacent agricultural fields. The state acquisition includes wooded mountainous portions of the property, resulting in a balance of forest preservation and private ownership of adjacent land that allows the family to carry on their agricultural tradition.