COUDERSPORT — The building that houses Empereon Marketing, 510 Bank St., Coudersport, has been sold to KSCM Properties for $110,000, putting the property back on the tax rolls, John Wright, executive director of Potter County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, said. KSCM Properties owns warehouses across the region.
The building (tax parcel 062-001-017) has been in the hands of the county’s Redevelopment Authority — and therefore off the tax rolls — since 2008. This purchase will put the building back on the tax rolls effective 2020, Jake Ostrom, Potter County’s chief tax assessor, said. With all taxing districts, the building will bring in $17,283/year in taxes, Ostrom said.
The building, also known as the “Tennis Center,” has been leased to Empereon Marketing for almost 12 years. The building was built by Adelphia in 1999 as a public recreation center, but Adelphia ended up using it for its customer service department. After the collapse of Adelphia in 2002, some of its assets, including this building, were transferred to Time Warner Cable. Time Warner left the area in 2007, eliminating 500 jobs. The Redevelopment Authority worked with the governor at the time to recruit an employer — later to be Empereon — to occupy the facility and bring jobs back to the area.
This property was the center of a lawsuit filed by the Coudersport Area School District against the Redevelopment Authority. The school district filed an appeal with the county’s board of assessment revision, made up of the county commissioners (Doug Morley recused himself), in August 2018. The district argued in an October 2018 hearing that the property should not be tax exempt because the authority didn’t have the right to lease the property for commercial use and, even if it did, it would make the property subject to taxation. Later that month, the board of assessment revision denied the appeal. The district appealed to the Potter County Courts of Common Pleas.
Ostrom recently set the assessed value of the property at $211,190, a 68% reduction in the Adelphia Era value of $676,875. The district did not appeal this assessment.
Prior to the reassessment, the building’s tax bill averaged out to approximately $5,000/month, Wright said. Empereon Marketing’s lease was $2,500/month up until this year, when it was increased to $3,000/month.
All of the building’s rental income would have gone toward taxes and the Redevelopment Authority would still have be short, he explained. Had the building been put back on the tax rolls when the Redevelopment Authority owned it, Wright said it would not have been able to keep the building and would have taken it down.
Though the purchase price is lower than the assessed value, the building was sold “as is” and KSCM Properties is absorbing the responsibility for renovations, including repairing the heating and cooling system, Wright said. A local company quoted the repairs to be around $120,000, he said.
KSCM Properties has plans to keep Empereon’s lease.
“We created over 100 jobs there, knowing that lease is going to be honored was a huge point. Their chief executive officers are working together to either keep them there or keep them in the area, that’s important to us,” Wright said.
It has always been the Redevelopment Authority’s goal to get the building back into the private sector, Wright said.
“We could no longer sustain these losses, given the school district was suing us to put it back on the tax rolls, what were our options?” Wright said. “This was a way to address all concerns as quickly as possible.”
John Abplanalp, the district’s business manager, said the district was pleased with the recent transaction.
“The assessed value is what we get our taxes on. We’re glad to see we will get some tax money on it,” Abplanalp said. “When the assessed value was changed, that is what sealed the deal.”
The school district had not met with its solicitor to go over the fine details of the matter, such as if the district will withdraw the lawsuit, at the time of publication and therefore would not comment further.