The Binghamton University Foundation recently purchased a former newspaper printing plant in Johnson City, with the aim of expanding the University’s library storage facilities.
The plant, formerly known as the Gannett Central New York Production Facility, resides on 10 Gannett Drive in Johnson City and served as the print location for the Press & Sun-Bulletin newspaper for 12 years, until operations ceased in June 2018. After Gannett Corp. decided to move print production of the Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Ithaca Journal and the Elmira Star-Gazette to Rochester, the facility has been vacant and all printing technology was dismantled.
According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, the plant has had significant work done in the past, totaling around $50 million. The plant was sold to BU for $4.5 million.
The purchase was conducted through the BU Foundation, which serves as a fundraising partner for the University. As a state agency, BU is not allowed to accept monetary gifts directly, so the BU Foundation, a nonprofit organization, presents a way to manage and invest donations to support the University.
In the past five years, BU has purchased over 20 properties to continue their expansion into Johnson City. The University’s most notable property in the city is the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, located at 96 Corliss Ave. Up the road is the ongoing construction project at the Health Sciences Campus, located at 48 Corliss Ave. Upon completion, the campus will be the new location for the Decker School of Nursing.
Although the University declined to comment on the nature of the purchase, WBNF obtained quotes from BU President Harvey Stenger on what the plant will be used for. According to Stenger, the Gannett plant will be transformed into a library annex where new shelving will be installed along with the placement of books from other library storage sites.
According to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU, the University has been making efforts to expand the campus.
“All I can say at the moment is that we are securing properties that make sense for our campus,” Yarosh wrote in an email.
Before its most recent use, the site of the plant was used for the former Endicott Johnson Paracord Factory, which manufactured military boots in New York’s Southern Tier region. After closing in 1995, the Gannett site construction began in 2004.
However, some students raised concerns about the nature of the purchase.
Kimberly Garpestad, a junior double-majoring in actuarial sciences and economics, questioned the financial standing of the University during these times.
“From what I’ve understood, the University was in financial distress due to COVID-19, so I’m just confused as to why these purchases are being made at this time,” Garpestad said. “I wish more information was available to students because we are ultimately the ones who should be informed of campus expansion.”
Clarissa Agate, a junior majoring in art history, said that more information on the purchase and location should have been released to students.
“I understand the University has been making steps toward expanding the campus, but I wish they were more transparent about their purchases,” Agate said. “As a student, I think it is important to know what locations are University-affiliated and how we can utilize them for our own use, but, when students don’t have any knowledge about these purchases, it makes it hard to fully understand the scope of their plans.”