BETHLEHEM — Monolith Solar has to repay $54,222 in tax breaks as the solar installation company failed to complete its $4.9 million Slingerlands headquarters, according to the Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency.
The amount — which the company had received prior to stopping the building’s construction at Vista Technology Park off Route 85 in Slingerlands — comprises of $30,400 in mortgage recording tax exemptions and $23,822 in sales tax exemptions.
The IDA had passed a resolution to recapture that money in late March; IDA executive director Thomas Connolly said that after receiving no response from Monolith Solar, he sent a letter to the company on May 14, containing an invoice that included the $54,222 amount that had to be repaid.
“We want it repaid immediately and my guess is that they’re not going to do that,” Connolly said, confirming that the company has yet to respond since the letter was sent. “The vast majority of the money were tax exemptions that were in effect from the state so the town of Bethlehem is not owed money really. If we ever do get the money, almost all of it goes back to the state and the rest to the county. … The town of Bethlehem has not lost any money on this deal.”
This update came after Monolith Solar stopped construction and furloughed almost 70 workers in September 2018, as well as facing at least three lawsuits from other companies like Solar Foundations USA that alleged it had not paid its bills to them.
The company had also welcomed Chris Stroud as its new CEO in October after his predecessor, Mike Hickey, departed after one year for a job at Siena College. Although Monolith Solar owner Steve Erby was optimistic that the company was moving forward, by bringing back some of the furloughed workers and receiving a “recurring revenue stream in the form of financing” with an investor at the Feb. 22 IDA meeting, no updates have arisen since.
For months, what stands at the Vista Technology Park is an incomplete fenced-off structure of metal beams. Construction had been slated to finish in December 2018 but its site plan, first issued in March 2015, expired on Dec. 13, 2018 despite receiving two 90-day extensions. Its building permits also expired on Jan. 31, 2019.
Connolly said that the building site is in the hands of Pioneer Bank now and if construction does not resume at all, “it is going to be a difficult property to sell because the structure was started but not finished. But you have to find somebody who would want the specific square footage and eventually, something will be built there. But it will be a long, long process. Maybe in five years.”
He added that the IDA has never faced such a similar situation where a company does not finish its project and also not communicate updates with the IDA.
“It’s such a huge disappointment because we wanted to have the solar manufacturer in the Vista Tech Park,” he said. “I think it’ll be a waiting game at this point as we put all the pressure we could. We terminated their contracts and we are not getting the jobs and investments that were promised, and we want them to pay back.”
Spotlight News has reached out to Monolith Solar for comment but did not receive any in time of this publication.
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