B y Derek Liebig
After sitting vacant for nearly two years and attracting its fair share of interest from residents, business owners and elected officials who eyed the building as a potential municipal center, the defunct Armory will be sent to auction later this fall.
The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) confirmed last week that the venerable building will be put up for sale at a public auction on Sept. 20.
The sale will include the entire 2.8 acre lot, 29,000 square foot building and the garage.
The minimum bid has been set at $75,000.
“This is great for the community because it’s an opportunity to get the property back on the tax rolls and it’s great for the state because we won’t have to carry the operating costs any longer. It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” OGS public information officer Heather Groll said.
The auction will be held at noon in the Canal Corp. Visitor’s Center. Anyone who is interested in participating in the auction needs to register in advance which can be done at the Visitor’s Center prior to the auction or by calling the OGS offices.
Potential buyers will be required to bring a certified check or bank draft for 10 percent of the minimum bid, in this case $7,500. A five percent commission fee applies to brokers and real estate agents.
The total balance for the successful bid is due 120 days after the auction.
Prior to auction, the OGS will hold four open house events during which interested buyers will be given the opportunity to tour the facility, ask questions and personally evaluate the condition of the building before deciding if they would like the take part in the auction.
The open houses will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 26, Aug. 10, Aug. 23 and Sept. 7.
Groll said as far as the OGS was concerned there are no restrictions concerning what the buyers may use the building for, although local zoning regulations would apply.
She cited the former Armory in Amsterdam as an example of what some buyers have done with other armory buildings. The 36,000 square foot building was transformed into a private resident and two-bedroom Bed and Breakfast.
Other armory uses include a military museum (Saratoga), art gallery (Manhattan), concert hall (Albany), and community center (Ticonderoga).
“If you have $75,000 and a love of old stone buildings, then it’s a great opportunity,” Groll said.
The NYS National Guard, which at one time operated more than 100 armories across the state, began phasing out many of the buildings over the last decade.
Eric Durr, Director of Public Affairs, Division of Military and Naval Affairs, said they started to get out of the armory buildings because of the exorbitant costs of operating the facilities.
Many of the buildings are more than a hundred years old (construction of the Whitehall facility was completed in 1899) and rather energy inefficient.
The town of Whitehall briefly flirted with the idea of relocating their town offices to the building earlier this spring, but had a change of heart after a committee appointed to study the costs of the move determined heating expenses could approach, or even exceed, $50,000 to $60,000 a year (and those figures only reflect the Armory and not the garage), among other costs.
The idea to move the town offices to the Armory polarized segments of the community between those in favor of the move and those who were ardently opposed.
However, even among those who were against the move, many said they didn’t want to see the building fall into a further state of disrepair.
“I just don’t want to see the building fall down,” Supervisor Richard “Geezer” Gordon, said.