Broome County is planning to move its Office of Employment and Training and a portion of its Department of Social Services to the former Sears location in the Oakdale Mall.
A resolution before the County Legislature would have Broome enter into a lease agreement with Spark Broome LLC which is owned by the Matthews family.
Spark Broome is purchasing the building, which Sears vacated in the Summer of 2017, and will renovate it to house Workforce New York and DSS’s Mental Health unit in about half of the upper floor of the old store.
Workforce New York, in turn, would continue to sublet space to the New York State Department of Labor as it currently does on Front Street in Binghamton.
The majority of DSS will remain on Main Street across from Binghamton High School.
The resolution calls for the county to pay Spark Broome $540,000 beginning next year with an annual 2.5 percent increase each year through 2034.
The agreement would also have an option for a 15 year renewal after that.
County Executive Jason Garnar tells NewsChannel 34 that this will be great for Broome in 3 ways.
First, he says the current Workforce location is in serious disrepair, lacks adequate parking and is not welcoming.
Second, he says that while state and federal aid cover much of the rent, the county will save $15,000 per year on its portion and that the arrangement will also free up an additional $65,000 annually for job training programs.
And finally, he sees it as a first step to repurposing the Mall as a mixed-use complex and that the 125 employees and roughly 1,000 job seekers who visit Workforce each month will add much-needed foot traffic to the Mall.