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Maranatha's Future in Doubt

Written By Andrew Hartnett on 2/26/14 | 2/26/14

It has been nearly half a year since Marantha Family Center’s new facility on Route 7 closed its doors. The center has moved some classes to its former location on Elm Street in Cobleskill, but the future of the new 62,000 square foot building remains uncertain.

The most notable movement came in October of last year, when New York City investor Da-Lai Wu expressed interest in the facility. He came with an investment plan which he said involved expanding the facility, while also reopening the existing building as quickly as possible. However, Mr. Wu said the complex legal arrangements required for the transaction took longer than he had anticipated. “Records showed that the majority of MFC's revenue occurred from December through part of March,” said Wu in a letter to the editor of The Schoharie News. The duration of the proceedings cut into this important time and this delay, along with a number of other complaints Mr. Wu addressed in his letter, were what Mr. Wu said caused him to retract his offer.

Photo credit: Ed Munger,
Daily Gazette
Many of the problems with finding an investor stem from the conditions surrounding the facility’s initial construction. A large portion of the funding came from grants. The terms of these grants stipulate that only the current owner, Stella McKenna, can have any share of ownership. This means that, before any investment contracts can be signed for Maranatha, a waiver of this requirement must first be agreed to. Although the Town of Richmondville did file a request for such a grant, Mr. Wu said the request came too late to be effectve. He cited this delay as one of his primary concerns upon exiting from negotiations.

In addition to these legal barriers, any potential buyers of Maranatha also face many financial problems. The facility has approximately $31,000 in unpaid electric bills, which were the initial reason behind the closure. Marantha also faces an approximately $20,000 equipment audit of the facility’s construction grant. The property is also in foreclosure.

The financial liability and legal troubles facing potential investors are typically cited as the prime reasons for the apparent lack of interest. Mr. Wu, among others, has made the case that the Town of Richmondville has the ability, in at least some cases, to waive or delay these burdens. The Town, however, is reluctant to accept too much risk, which they say is out of fear that taxpayers will be left to pay the facility’s expenses, should the business fail again even with investment.

Now, as Mr. Wu begins pursuing another property interest in Middleburgh, Richmondville residents and membership holders are left with Marantha’s message, written on the sign in front of the new facility for most of its closure. “Reopening ASAP.”
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2 comments:

Kim Tanney said...

I found this article to be the most clear, concise description delivered on the issue. Much appreciated.

Sharon Aitchison said...

Nice job, Andrew. Just a sidebar ... if the possibility of a casino coming to Schoharie County hadn't been nixed by the Board of Supervisors ... that building would have been an option to house a casino!

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