GENESEO – Campus Auxiliary Services, a non-profit that runs SUNY Geneseo’s dining facilities, is moving forward with plans to sell the Big Tree Inn.
In an email to college staff Wednesday, Mat Felthousen, executive director of CAS, said after “careful consideration,” the non-profit’s board of directors had voted unanimously to conduct a request for proposal to sell the 46 Main St. property in the “coming months.”
Felthousen cited “pandemic and other fiscal challenges” in explaining why a sale of the Big Tree was necessary.
“The college realized many significant benefits from use of the property throughout the years,” Felthousen said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the County News. “However, after reviewing the financial challenges over more than a decade, even under different management teams and now with compounding factors related to the pandemic, it was determined that it is in the best interest of our campus community to let others determine its best future use.”
Felthousen said an independent appraiser is currently conducting a valuation of the Big Tree and that CAS would be announcing more information “in the coming weeks.”
“CAS and campus leadership appreciate your continued support as strategic decisions are made to further focus attention on core services while responding to ongoing financial issues,” he said.
Felthousen also told staff that CAS had recently applied for and received confirmation that a $2.7 million loan the non-profit has previously received through the Paycheck Protection Program had been forgiven.
Data released by the federal government in summer 2020 shows CAS applied for and received a loan of between $2 million and $5 million from the Bank of Castile. CAS said the loan would help it maintain 465 jobs during pandemic-related shutdowns.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, PPP loans are forgiven if they’re used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent or utilities. In order to be forgiven, recipients are required to spend 60 percent of their loan on payroll, according to the SBA.
Felthousen declined to comment Thursday and referred questions to SUNY Geneseo spokesperson Monique Patenaude, who also declined to comment.
“There is no new information to share since yesterday’s message regarding The Big Tree,” Patenaude said. “When there is new info, we’ll share it with you.”
The Big Tree is the second property in Geneseo that CAS has sought to offload in recent months. The non-profit listed McClellan House at 26 Main St. for sale in May with an asking price of $474,900.
Patenaude confirmed last month that the sale of the property was pending, but declined to provide additional details.
Felthousen acknowledged the same in his email to staff Wednesday.
“CAS has accepted an offer on McClellan House on Main Street, contingent to legal review,” he said. “The legal review is expected to be completed soon with more details to follow.”
At the time the college confirmed the pending sale of McClellan House, the asking price for the property had been lowered to $409,000.
The first floor of the 6,900-square-foot residence previously housed the Lockhart Gallery, which featured contemporary and historical exhibitions and the works of regional and nationally recognized artists.
Its second floor was the previous home of the Soaring Stars education program and the James Kimball music collection. The third floor was historically unoccupied due to code requirements, including lack of sprinkler coverage and a cost-prohibitive second egress.
The college has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the property since 2014.
The Geneseo Foundation acquired McClellan House in 2000. CAS has owned the property since 2014. The property’s assessed value in 2021 was $264,000 according to county tax records.
The Big Tree Inn was most recently assessed in 2021 at a value of $1.04 million, county tax records show.