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Former furniture factory reborn as business incubator

HUDSON-The address is 99 South Third Street. It’s an industrial park in walk-in condition on Hudson’s waterfront, and for a city that often feels constrained by a lack of space to expand, this site offers an unusual development opportunity.

Near the end of the last decade the building was empty after the L&B Furniture company closed its doors. Now, with about 300,000 square feet of affordable space that comes with heat and electric in the lease, it offers the kind of incubator space that entrepreneurs of many kinds, including artists, filmmakers, musicians, athletes and even farmers, are looking for.

“I came here because of this building,” said Kris Perry, a sculptor who heard about the space and moved here from California in 2010. “I need to keep my overhead low.”

At around $560 per thousand square feet, the price is relatively low, especially when compared to what artists pay for comparable space in New York City.

Mr. Perry says he likes the ambiance of 99 South Third with all its remnants of America’s industrial past. His sculptures, created from cast-off industrial components, are kinetic, automated and robotic. Many are controlled by panels of switches that can be manipulated by musicians, producing now antiquated pings, whirs, moans and rattles.

There are not many walls, but Mr. Perry solved that problem by installing a fence in part of his space. As both an artist and a businessman, he spends part of his time working under the name Full Circle, outfitting trucks to run on biodiesel fuel, and part of his time as a sculptor who makes works that are also musical instruments.

County residents will get a chance to hear these instruments played by professional musicians on August 10 just across the parking lot, when Basilica Hudson hosts the Hudson Music Festival. Posters featuring Kris Perry’s Machines with line drawings of his creations, reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp,  and pictures of the seven musicians who will play them are up around the city.

The former factory is also home to The Eleanor, a historic Hudson River sloop undergoing restoration. It is berthed nearby along with several other boats. Elsewhere a truck, and a Corvette appear like toys in the vast space.

There are two gyms: XCG (Xtreme Cheer and Dance), which trains school kids to compete in cheerleading and gymnastics and hosts Zumba dance and Pilates classes, and Hudson Barbell, which offers members a a rigorous cross training regime. The gyms have carved out large, enclosed spaces outfitted with matted floors and state-of-the-art athletic equipment.

A high tech recycling firm, Mr. e-waste, has set up shop here. The 140,000 tons it handles annually will double now that the company signed an agreement to handle Columbia County’s electronic waste.

COARC leases thousands of square feet for storage.

LIMZ Machinery buys and resells manufacturing equipment. Next door Digifab realizes architectural and other designs, sculptures and signs with computer assisted technology and employs around 30 people.

Other tenants include Peterson, Geller, and Spurge, which restores interior spaces in New York City with components it creates at its Fairview Avenue workshop. Northern Dutchess Hard Wood Floors recycles architectural wood into flooring.

Tom Delia, an international metal recycler who trades metals, including rare earths, in 13 countries and represents large recycling concerns based in Belgium and Calgary, moved his offices here from a second floor space on Cross Street in Hudson.

“The building is a rich resource. It is suited for light manufacturing and skilled labor, either lots of little companies or a mid-sized business,” said Mr. Delia, the father of Alex Delia, the 24-year-old owner of Mr. e-waste.

Soon a major transportation company will open an office for 30 in the office park part of the building.

“It’s big. It’s open. It’s exactly what we needed. We needed a high ceiling. The kids are so active that we don’t need it to be super warm,” said Marilee Bell of XCG.

John Chambers, owner of the Hudson Barbell gym, has seen an uptick in business this summer. He sees the building as “an undiscovered resource that people will start to take advantage of soon.”

Jason O’Toole, the realtor in charge of renting for the owners, L&B, the furniture making company that built and occupied the building from 1989 to 2008, is enthusiastic about the potential of the place. The room could be a solar farm once the numbers are right, he said, adding, “The roof would also be a great place for greenhouses to raise food.”

Entrepreneurs interested in using the space to organize CSA (community supported agriculture) services for nearby urban areas have contacted him.

“This would be perfect for an indoor music festival, or a sound stage. A tenant could come in and take 100,000 feet of space and produce 100 jobs,” said Mr. O’Toole.

And if the right entity comes along, the owners are willing to sell all 300,000 square feet for only $19.67 per square foot. That’s $5.9 million.

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