By Allison Collins
OTEGO – Things are progressing in the former Otego Elementary building as purchaser AgZeit (pronounced “excite”) readies for move-in following a Nov. 9 site tour.
After hearing four proposals, the Unatego Board of Education voted sale of the building and partial grounds to the Endicott-based indoor-farming upstart at its Aug. 6 meeting.
AgZeit founder and CEO James Dutcher said attorneys representing the company and the school district are “finalizing the last of the contractual details.”
“We sat down last week … and, where things are at now, it’s to the planning board to rezone the property so that we can do the indoor farming,” he said. This process, Dutcher noted, will likely take “another few weeks.”
“Once the rezoning is done and approved, we can go ahead and do the formal purchase,” he said. “Assuming all that gets wrapped up within the month, we hope to close within the end of the year and get in there tentatively by January.”
“We’ll do our rehab work for 30 days or so,” he added, “and after that point, we’ll be in full farming mode.”
To aid growth, Dutcher noted, AgZeit has hired a chief technical officer and Binghamton University Ph.D. candidate.
“He’ll be leading up our efforts to be build indoor farming automation,” Dutcher said.
During the Nov. 9 tour, Dutcher was accompanied by several community members, district personnel and representatives from potential partner agencies.
Including a mix of people in the planning stages, Dutcher said, reflects his intent to keep the building accessible and community-friendly.