ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – 18 News has learned the historic former Star-Gazette building in downtown Elmira needs asbestos removal. Asbestos can be toxic to breathe. Jill Koski, the Vice President of ‘Southern Tier Economic Growth’ said an application is in progress for a New York State grant to help cover the costs of “stabilizing” the 104-year-old building. The property occupies an entire city block, from Baldwin Street to Clemens Center Parkway.
In an email, Koski said “Elmira Downtown Development’ applied for a $300,00 New York Main Street Grant to help stabilize the Gannett building. The stabilization includes asbestos abatement. We provided technical assistance by writing the grant in cooperation with EDD and the City of Elmira.”
The Star-Gazette, founded as the weekly Elmira Gazette in 1828, became the first newspaper of Gannett, the parent company of USA Today. The paper moved into its Baldwin Street location in 1911. After 104 years, the paper moved out in 2015.
The building sat vacant for several years. In 2019, a brewery showed interest in buying the property but passed. In 2020, the Gannett media company sold the building for $215,000. The new owner at the time said he would turn it into a studio and gallery space for artists, but the plan never materialized. In November of 2022, the current owner bought the building for $190,000. Property records show the new owner is Mark Tiedemann, CEO of Giuseppe Holdings Elmira, LLC.
Chemung County Executive Chris Moss told 18 News the Gannett media company left the building in such bad shape, asbestos may not be its only problem.
“What would you like to see happen there? Do you have any thoughts on its future?” asked reporter Nicolas Dubina.
“I’d like to see Gannett come in and clean up the mess that they left there. That’s what I would like to see, to be honest with you,” said County Executive Moss. “I mean, you talk about asbestos abatement but I’m not sure if phase two from the Department of Environmental Conservation will even pass there with the type of business that was there before. Look, we want all kinds of economic development we can get into Chemung County, but we also need to do it safely. We don’t need to find out down the road that we shouldn’t have let a business come into a location or an area. I think Gannett news service really did a disservice when they left that building in that condition. So I’ll be interested to see where all the testing comes out at the end of the day for whoever wants to go in there.”
“Can you tell us a little bit more, what kind of conditions, why did they leave it in such disrepair that could present issues?” asked Dubina.
“You have to check with Gannett news service,” Moss replied. “Anybody that comes in and wants to buy the building, obviously is going to put it through the various phases to make sure it’s environmentally safe. They printed newspapers. So obviously there’s some issues there to make sure that the ground underneath the building is safe and so forth. So I hope whoever purchases it or rents it or leases it does their due diligence. But at the end of the day, I hope that Gannett news service has done their due diligence as well.”
18 News contacted Gannett to ask about the conditions the building was left in after it was sold.
A message returned late Wednesday afternoon from GANNETT Corporate Communications said:
“Thank you for reaching out. Please direct your inquiry to the current owner.”
18 News also reached out to current owner Mark Tiedemann Wednesday morning. We did not hear back before publication.