Company News

Escalating Residential, Healthcare and Commercial Projects Help First Columbia’s Business Climb 43 Percent Over ’04;
First Columbia, Bette & Cring to Relocate to 22 Century Hill Plaza

LATHAM (October 4, 2005) — If your car has recently come to a grinding halt north of exit 6 on I-87, you’ve probably noticed 22 Century Hill Plaza rising from the Century Hill Plaza parking lot, courtesy of commercial real estate developer First Columbia and its construction arm, Bette & Cring.

The firms, part of the Bette Family of Companies and developers of the 20-acre complex, are growing in leaps and bounds. And, to accommodate their thriving businesses, First Columbia and Bette & Cring plan to eventually occupy the entire three-story, 45,000-square-foot site, which is set to be completed this winter.

“We’re diversified in healthcare, commercial and residential work. And we’re doing very well right now in all three areas,” said First Columbia President & CEO Kevin Bette, whose firm has $87 million of projects that will be completed in the Capital Region, Hudson Valley and North Country this year, up 43% from 2004.

On the residential side, First Columbia recently completed the East Hills development in Loudonville — a 219-acre residential subdivision on Spring Street Road, near Siena College and Schuyler Meadows Country Club. In March, the company began a two-year, $4 million renovation of the Maplewood Hotel, a turn-of-the-century landmark located in Pittsfield, MA, into 18 luxury condominiums.

“As developers we saw an opportunity to add to the quality of life in Pittsfield. The city’s downtown is going through an incredible revitalization, including a renovated museum and theatre complex,” said Bette, whose firm is constantly searching for residential opportunities in Western Massachusetts, as the region increasingly becomes a hotbed for those searching for second homes and vacation properties.

The assisted living and healthcare industries have also been boom areas for First Columbia, which recently oversaw the construction of Ávila, the new independent retirement community located behind the Teresian House on Washington Avenue Extension. In the coming months the company will begin work on the Mercycare Life Center in Guilderland, a campus developed for St. Peter’s Healthcare Services. It also plans to begin work shortly on a senior retirement project in New Hampshire.

First Columbia’s commercial work at Stewart International Airport, a former military base in Newburgh, has been another tremendous growth area for the company. To date, the company has constructed 400,000-square-feet of office space and has brought in $20 million in land sales. The recently approved construction of the airport’s interchange linking Interstate 84 directly to the airport will only help to further stimulate business interest in the area by providing direct access to First Columbia’s New York International Plaza — a 260-acre corporate campus offering more than two million-square-feet of integrated facilities.

Sister company, Bette & Cring, has also experienced a steady rise in business, causing it to require 15,000-square-feet in 22 Century Hill Plaza — twice the size of its current office space.

“We’ve recently been awarded several $30 million multi-housing projects in the Capital Region related to the growth of International SEMATECH, as well as some assisted living projects,” said Bette & Cring Partner Matthew Bette, whose company employs 150 office and field employees in the Capital Region. “To handle this work we’ve had to add additional employees locally.”

Bette & Cring’s Northern New York office in Watertown, whose accounts payable and receivable are handled in Albany, has also landed $45 million of commercial building projects in recent months, including a $24 million project to construct the new commercial building and provide site improvements at the U.S. Port of Entry in Champlain, New York. The company was also the lowest bidder to construct new jails in Essex and Seneca counties.