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Failures during AIM Photonics site selection

Local News
The main engine of the much-hyped AIM Photonics initiative is just weeks away from starting.
 
But the test, assembly and packaging, or TAP, facility is not where everyone thought it was going to go.
 
When all this was first announced it was assumed it would be in Greece at a state-owned building called Canal Ponds.
 
Instead, it’s in Rochester, in a private building owned by ON Semiconductor, attached to the Eastman Business Park.
 
To some, that switch was unwise and suspicious.
 
Greece Town Supervisor Mark Assini points to site recommendation list created by the company the state paid to analyze various potential spots, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, or NGKF.

Most of the sites had a renovation cost of $3 million or less, but Canal Ponds had a price tag of $26.5 million.

“I have talked to developers and they say there is no way that a building like that would cost nearly $29 million to renovate, it’s not possible, even with the cleanrooms that they’re talking about. It’s not possible,” Assini said.

News 8 tried to find out why there was such a price difference but couldn’t because Canal Ponds state-linked owner, Fuller Road Management Corporation, did not submit a complete application.
 
In other words, the state did not have all the information it wanted before it chose to renovate and pay rent to ON Semiconductor over Canal Ponds, a government-owned property.
 
But Empire State Development’s Vincent Esposito says the state went back with its own review team.
“Even after we did a more thorough analysis of the other sites they were still far less expensive to retrofit which is what we did where we went, ON Semiconductor, and equip,” Esposito said.
But not as inexpensive as they initially thought.
 
NGKF told the state it would cost $1.34 million to renovate On Semi.
 
But the price tag then jumped to $10 million then to $18 million before it decreased to $15 million.
“That is astounding, that is sheer incompetence or it’s a bid that has been rigged,” Assini said.
 
Esposito denies bid-rigging, but said there was concern over the cost increase.
 
 “I asked the exact same question, how could they have come in so much less than the $15 million we ultimately spent to build it out and it was pretty clear that the initial RFP (Request for Proposals) didn’t have the level of detail that the AIM Photonics needed at the beginning, but they got there and out of the sites reviews, ON Semiconductor was still the best one because it had so many capabilities to handle the gasses and the waste water and all of the infrastructure that’s needed for the level of cleanrooms going into AIM Photonics TAP facility,” Esposito said.
 
News 8 called NGKF to ask why their numbers were so off but never heard back.
 
News 8 also asked SUNY Poly, which oversees Canal Ponds, why the application was incomplete and they said the person who submitted it and his supervisor are no longer with the school.
 
To see our previous story on the state’s incorrect claims regarding Canal Ponds cleanrooms, click here.

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