Margaretville Masonic building sold; to become Delaware County eCenter

By Brian Sweeney
The Delaware County Industrial Development Agency has purchased the Margaretville Masonic Hall and will create a second eCenter in the building.
The new eCenter will be essentially a satellite of the original in Delhi. Operated by the county IDA, the Delaware County Office of Economic Development, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and SUNY Delhi, the eCenter is designed as an incubator to assist business growth.
The Main Street, Margaretville location owned by Margaretville Masonic Lodge No. 389 Inc. currently houses a third-floor meeting hall, two apartments on the second floor and the Margaretville Hospital Thrift Shop and attorney Carey Wagner’s office on the first floor.
Glenn Nealis, executive director of the IDA, said last week that the purchase agreement allows the Masons to continue utilizing their meeting space for five years, with an option for a second five-year term. The apartment residents will be allowed to maintain their homes. The hospital is currently seeking a new location for the Thrift Shop and Mr. Wagner will be relocating his practice on the eastern end of the village.
Mr. Nealis said the IDA has long had an interest in establishing a business in Margaretville and that the Masonic building made the most sense of the four buildings that were considered.
The Masons have owned the building since 1908 and were looking to make the sale so the organization could remain financially viable, Mr. Nealis said.
“The building was affordable to us at a very reasonable price, because it does need a lot of work,” he explained.
He noted that repairing the roof, which the Masons could not afford, will be the first priority.
Mr. Nealis said that, along with creating new businesses, the historic building will be extensively restored. This work is expected to get underway next spring.
“We will return the outside of the building as close as possible to how it appeared 100 years ago,” said Mr. Nealis.
He said the restoration work will include removing the vinyl siding and updating wooden clapboards.
The MARK Group and an architect will be engaged to ensure accurate updating of the historic building.
The project is made possible with a $250,000 grant secured this summer on behalf of the IDA by Sen. John Bonacic. The entire project is expected to cost between $550,000-$750,000. Mr. Nealis said that several funding partners have expressed a strong interest in assisting with the project.
Plans call for the construction four offices on the first floor for the eCenter. These will be rented out “to smaller businesses that are just starting up and that will grow.”
Mr. Nealis said the basic idea behind the eCenter is that once businesses get established, they then move out into the community. He said standard leases are for one year, with a one-year renewal. At the end of that time, a determination is made as to the viability of the enterprise.
He explained that for a business to become an eCenter tenant, an application and business plan must be filed. When a business sets up in the eCenter, provides all the office equipment, utilities, Internet access, maintenance and shared office equipment.
The eCenter will also provide any additional support, such as help with employees and financial assistance.
Mr. Nealis said the Masonic building previously had been on the tax rolls, but will now be removed. He said the Masons paid approximately $7,000 annually between, village, county, town and school taxes.
“The idea is that the increase of the new businesses will add to a positive economic impact on the Village of Margaretville. Ultimately, this will outweigh the small loss in tax revenue. I think it’s a work in progress and a way for us to make a long-term investment in economic development in Margaretville,” he noted.