For years, the 72,000 square foot Coudersport, PA, building that once housed Adelphia’s headquarters has sat vacant, with dust gathering on its granite fixtures and parquet floors. The four-story building with its Palladian windows is a reminder in the tiny town of the Adelphia saga—a bankrupt cable company that was sold off to Time Warner Cable and Comcast after founder/CEO John Rigas and son Timothy Rigas were convicted of securities fraud and sentenced to prison.
Valued at about $25 million to $30 million when it was constructed in 2000, the building was bought several times over the years with multiple buyers defaulting, most recently Chicago real estate investor Bogdan Klek who paid $3.6 million for the building in ’08. Despite the auction purchases no one ever moved in. That changed in recent months. After years of negotiating, the Potter County Redevelopment Authority finally convinced American Metro Bank to allow it to purchase the iconic building for the reduced price of $2 million. In February, the first tenant moved in—Zito Media, a cable company owned by the Rigas family.
“Had it not been for Zito Media, this project would not have been possible,” said Redevelopment Authority executive director John Wright. “It was such a big project, without them as a prospective anchor [it wouldn’t have happened]. I saw two or three people over a seven year period court them to try and be a prospective tenant to participate in the project and each time it fell through. I think quite frankly we appealed to their interest in helping the community recover from the loss of Adelphia and they took that to heart and worked with us. Their role was a lot more significant than ours.”
The Redevelopment Authority is tasked by the county with redevelopment projects for the area, including water, road and economic development projects. “As Adelphia exited the area, and obviously the impact was significant, we have been actively involved in filling a lot of the properties that Adelphia lost that became vacant,” said Wright, who has been executive director of the authority for 33 years. “The whole economic impact shook the county for quite some time. It’s still being felt.” Just last month, the Potter County Board of Commissioners approved a transfer ownership of some Adelphia-owned modular units to the county in exchange for Adelphia receiving free rent for a portion of office space through the end of December 2014, according to the Potter Leader Enterprise.
There were rumors that the Adelphia headquarters might have been pulled apart and salvaged in pieces, leaving a big hole in the ground. “There were some scenarios there that didn’t play out well for the community at all,” Wright said. “The cost to clean it up or revitalize it would have been as much to acquire the building.”
Zito is on the 2nd floor of the building and is the only tenant at this point. However, discussions are underway with other potential clients, including some in the oil and gas sector, for the remaining 60K square feet. Wright noted the building’s fiber capacity helps to make it attractive.
Cable veterans are well familiar with Coudersport and the Adelphia HQ, having made the trek out for programming negotiations and other business over the years. The opulent building left quite an impression, with execs over the years often musing, “Whatever happened to…?” Now you know.