COUDERSPORT — The building that previously served as the Adelphia Cable Operations Center will be sold to Zito Media, according to John Wright, executive director of the Potter County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities.
The almost $2 million sale is set for Dec. 14. The building, built during the Adelphia boom in 2000, has been mostly vacant for several years. A bank in Chicago, American Metro, recaptured the building as part of a failed loans collateral in 2008 but eventually sold it to the Potter County Redevelopment Authority in 2013, which is when Zito Media began to lease it.
James Rigas, CEO of Zito Media, said the company had the opportunity to purchase the building at the cost of what was left on the mortgage. He said the purchase was delayed until a tax issue was resolved.
The tax issue rose from the building being off of the tax rolls for so long. A settlement agreement was drafted and eventually agreed on between the taxing bodies (the county, Coudersport borough, Coudersport school) and the redevelopment authority.
Potter County Commissioner Doug Morley said commissioners were looking to create a tax break that could act as an incentive for someone to buy the building. The hope was that if the tax burden was lessened, it would enhance the ability to sell the building.
Morley said he believed the agreement is for seven years, in which the first year the owner would pay 14.28 percent of the full tax amount. The second year, the owner would see an increase in taxes and would pay 28.58 percent, and the increases would continue until 100 percent of the taxes were being paid yearly.
Wright said they will start off at paying about $36,000 in taxes per year and will increase about $12,000-$15,000 each year, until the company is paying the full amount of the taxes, approximately $106,000.
This would allow potential buyer to put money into repairs, expansions and other things, increasing the building’s assessed value, and not be hit with a large tax bill the first year, Morley said.
Morley said the market value of the building is $3,629,000, while the assessed value is $1,300,630, approximately half. Wright said without an adjusted tax assessment, Zito Media would have continued to lease the building.
“We’re very fortunate to have the Rigas family and Zito Media in the heart of downtown,” Wright said. He went on to say the company has created a lot of jobs and economic force in the community. He said nobody else in town would be able to carry the building, as it’s too much of a financial burden.
Wright said before the Redevelopment Authority purchased the building, the American Metro was looking into a possible demolition of the building.
“We’re fortunate not to have lost this asset,” Wright said.
Of the four floors in the building, Rigas said Zito Media is currently using about one and a half floors of the building and UPMC Cole is subletting half a floor. He said their lease goes for another year, but he’s not sure what the health system’s future plans are.
“It’s certainly a great space for us and a great home for the company. It creates the room to be able to expand,” Rigas said. He noted that expansion depends on many factors, including how well things are going in the industry and the availability of financing, among other things. Rigas said Zito Media employs about 120 people in Coudersport.
“We’re excited about it,” Rigas said about the purchase. “The redevelopment authority has been great to work with and we appreciate them stepping up.”
Rigas said Zito is turning what was an unused asset that was empty for many years into a fairly productive asset.