CCC plans advanced manufacturing institute at former Fulton Kmart

Cayuga Community College officials say they plan to soon unveil a details for an advanced manufacturing institute at the former Kmart space at River Glen Plaza, pictured above.

FULTON — Cayuga Community College is on the cusp of formalizing a proposal to build an advanced manufacturing institute in the vacant portions of River Glen Plaza.

College officials recently confirmed to The Palladium-Times imminent plans by the Cayuga Community College (CCC) Board of Trustees to submit a capital project request to the state of New York to “build out spaces to support our institutional vision and ultimately, our mission to the greater community.”

“[CCC] has had a longstanding commitment in Oswego County going back decades and a longstanding commitment to the city of Fulton,” CCC President Brian Durant said. “This will allow us to have the physical space to support curriculum we’ve already developed in manufacturing and maintenance technology.”

CCC’s presence in Oswego County began in 1994, and in 2011 through a subsidiary holding corporation, the college took over and began developing the former P&C store space at 11 River Glen Drive. Opened in 2012, the River Glen campus offers classroom and “state-of-the-art” laboratory spaces along with a learning commons and event area. The campus’ utilized property is adjacent to the vacant, 90,000-square-foot former Kmart, which officials have long eyed for development. The national retailer shut its doors on the store in 2014.

Durant said the college has finally put to bed an extended period of legal and real estate uncertainty surrounding the remaining space located at 13-41 River Glen Drive.

“We’re evaluating the space available to us that we have secured through a long-term lease,” Durant said, although he declined to comment on specifics of how the agreement was reached. “We’ll be having many conversations with private businesses and industry for what’s the best way to use the assets going forward.”

In 2018, the Auburn Citizen’s Gwendolyn Craig reported CCC was engaged in legal and lease negotiations with the asset management firms who held the mortgage to the former Kmart space.

Issues of multi-million dollar balloon payments and a once-planned auction of the property are now, Durant says, thankfully in the past.

“As we move forward through today, what is refreshed now is the fact that (River Glen Plaza) continues to be in a lease,” he said. “This new lease that allows us to better commit to future master planning and course design.”

A strong private-public partnership will be a key factor in developing the expansion, which Durant described as a “really exciting adventure for us” and a “blank slate to create together.”

“This will be designed in a collaborative approach and it’s something private industry has had great confidence in,” Durant said. “As we work together on what the regional needs are, we want to be able to respond and support them the best we can. Industry is the backbone needed for jobs and growth and as an educator we want to make sure we’re doing our part.”

Durant said cost, design and timeline details of the capital project would be released “in the coming months.”

Fulton Mayor-elect Deana Michaels said she had heard from Fulton city businesses who “need access” to qualified workers.

“I look forward to building the relationship with CCC,” Michaels said. “They’re an important partner in the community and we want to make sure Fulton continues to build support for this great opportunity.”

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