FONDA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Major redevelopment work will soon again be underway at the Exit 29 site, in Canajoharie, following the County Legislature’s approval of a resolution authorizing the County Executive to sign a contract with Ritter & Paratore Contracting, Inc. (RPCI) to perform demolition work on the western portion of the site, including the former Beech-Nut Food headquarters.

The total contract, which was awarded under the terms of the RFP issued by the County in September, includes the demolition of 22 buildings at the vacant site, as well as the canopy structures over the former northern and southern loading docks at a cost not to exceed $4,072,741. This next phase of activity at the site follows other demolition and prep work that was completed in October 2020, as well as the signing of a Purchase-and-Sale agreement with E29 Labs to redevelop a portion of the site.

“This is one of the few remaining hurdles for the redevelopment of this important property,” said Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort. “It’s been a long road, but we’ve been making marked progress toward having a site ready for redevelopment. Those efforts are paying off and we are now rapidly approaching that major milestone. Canajoharie is a great community, and it can only be made better by breathing new life into this site. I’m looking forward to seeing RPCI get to work. I also want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature, the team at the Business Development Center, and our engineering firm, LiRo, for all their work getting us to this point.”

“As we’ve said all along, the Exit 29 site is one of our most active and important economic development projects,” said Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose, whose office manages the property and is leading the redevelopment efforts. “Signing this contract and getting the next phase of demolition underway will be a huge step toward accomplishing our goals for this project. Demolition of these remaining structures makes this site even more enticing to additional developers and investors. When it’s completed, this demolition work will validate the significant potential for the property.”

During the County Legislature’s meeting, legislators also authorized an extension of the County’s contract with LiRo Engineering, the firm responsible for demolition design, bid, and construction oversight. The firm has been working in partnership with the County on the project since it was first contracted in 2018.

“The Exit 29 site has been a major focus for the County since I took office in 2017. The site’s incredible visibility from the NYS Thruway requires us to be thoughtful and deliberate when it comes to redevelopment,” said Legislative Chairman Mike Pepe. “We want to ensure the use is maximized in a manner that not only benefits the Village of Canajoharie, but also leaves a positive impression to thousands of vehicles that pass by it each day.”

“This has been a total team effort from the beginning, led by our Economic Development Department and Administration, that the Legislature has been pleased to support along the way,” Chairman Pepe continued. “It’s great to see our collective vision for the entire former Beech-Nut property finally take shape and begin to be brought to fruition.”

The next round of demolition work will come on the heels of local action related to the site’s redevelopment. Montgomery County worked through the Village of Canajoharie Planning Board to subdivide the Exit 29 site into three lots, in part in preparation for the E29 Labs project. The final subdivision of the site was approved at the October Village Planning Board meeting. Under the new subdivision, the eastern side of the property remains a 19.6 acres parcel, and the western side is divided into two parcels, one being 4.2 acres and the other 3.77 acres.