The Van Vleet Meat & Food Service Co. has been in Albany since 1978. On Monday night, the company asked the City Council for just over $700,000 to stay.
The company is proposing an expansion that will include an 8,500-square foot regional distribution center with cold storage and a temperature controlled dock, but a low appraisal due to inadequate available comparisons has caused a funding gap of $912,613.
“The type of building we want to build is an expensive one to build,” Bill Van Vleet said. “But if we want to stay in businesses we need to build the building and grow.”
Van Vleet Meat supplies wholesale food products to independent restaurants and food vendors throughout the mid-valley and, according to Van Vleet, the current facility at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Jackson Street, needs to expand to keep up with demands on the business.
Economic Development Manager Seth Sherry said he had been working with the company for a year and that staff had no recommendation for the council, but instead, was looking for direction.
The proposal was broken into two requests: a $550,000 loan from the city’s Economic Development Opportunity fund and $197,848 in grant funds to complete improvements to the street access, storm drains, power lines and a fire hydrant located on Jackson Street and 9th Street.
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“Given the proximity to the railroads this area has been subject to years of differed maintenance and lack of improvement to basic city infrastructure,” a presentation for the request read.
Van Vleet said the company was requesting a grant for the improvements because it did not want to pay interest on the funds because the city had deferred maintenance to the area.
Mayor Sharon Konopa said she was hesitant to use the Economic Development Opportunities Fund to approve grant requests.
“Once those funds are gone, they’re gone,” she said, asking if the money couldn’t come from the Central Albany Revitalization Agency instead. Sherry said the Van Vleets had opted to request the funds from the city.
The current appraisal for the completed project is $2,600,000 with a 70 percent loan ratio, according to Van Vleet. That places bank financing at $1,820,000. Current hard costs are estimated at $2,732,613 and soft costs at $244,424. Van Vleet said the company could pay out-of-pocket for the soft costs, but without the funds from the city, expanding in the current location would be impossible.
Council directed staff to bring back the request with loan terms equivalent to the open market rather than issuing the grant funds.