The walls are coming down at the site of the former Rockbestos-Suprenant — a key resident of the town of Clinton, Mass., for more than 20 years.
The business was founded in 1918 in New Haven, Conn., specializing in the manufacture of special-order power conductor wire and cable products with applications for unique or hostile environments — some included mining, oil drilling, transportation, aerospace, industrial uses, and nuclear power plants. For more than eight decades, the company grew to have annual revenues in the $75-million range.
In 2002, Rockbestos decided to relocate the business to a sister plant in Connecticut and vacated the property.
John Hogan, of Hogan Real Estate in Clinton, Mass., listed the property for sale but found few interested buyers, partially due to environmental issues. Therefore, the building remained vacant for the next four years, becoming a burden to the local community and a financial liability to the company.
In 2006, along came SeedAmerica, a non-profit 501(c)3 561 compliant organization based in Alpharetta, Ga., and specializing in the acquisition and transfer of under-utilized real estate while maximizing tax and income benefits for corporations.
The 561 Exchange is an IRS-sanctioned transaction derived from IRS Publication 561 allowing property owners to convey title of their property in exchange for a substantial cash benefit that often exceeds the cash benefit attained when selling a property at list price.
After careful analysis, Hogan recognized that this offer would generate a better return for his client and SeedAmerica could close on the property quickly. This was a key factor because a fast transaction enabled the property owner to purge the annual carrying cost of $500,000 from their balance sheet. In addition, the owner was able to dispose of a corporate headache, realize an attractive financial benefit and eliminate the environmental issue — a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Today, SeedAmerica has decided to take down the building — all but the 8,000-square-foot garage that sits on the rear of the property. According to Hogan, who still has the property listed for sale, the town of Clinton fire chief ordered that the sprinkler system in the building had to remain on at all times at a cost of $125,000 a year — not a cost-effective plan for SeedAmerica.
RSG Contracting Corporation has been on-site with demolition equipment battling the subzero temperatures that are so characteristic of a New England winter. Specializing in wrecking and demolition work, this seven-year-old Lowell, Mass.-based company has six employees and estimated annual sales of $2 million. RSG estimates that the job will take eight weeks and will be completed by the end of February.
Hogan said that many in town hope that some time soon there will be a buyer that will turn the property into retail space.