JAVAC’s lot sold to Townsend

JOHNSTOWN — Townsend Leather purchased the parking lot area behind the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, which used to include a landing zone for medical helicopters.

The move was made to create enough parking space for Townsend’s new building — the former Diana Knitting Mill now known as “The Stitch” building at 4 Grove St. The building is due for an opening Sept. 6.

Townsend Senior Vice President Tim Beckett said Wednesday that Townsend was in desperate need for more parking for its expansion, and the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps on North Perry Street was very accommodating.

Beckett said the corps — a “great neighbor” — put up for sale the area behind its building. That area — running along Grove Street — formerly included a landing spot for medical helicopters.

When the project was begun, Beckett said Townsend bought up a burned out building property at 223 N. Perry St. for parking. But he said the leather company still didn’t have enough space for parking. He said that was when the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps was approached about the area behind its building.

The Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps, formerly known as JAVAC, closed its business earlier this year for financial reasons, along with the Gloversville-based Ambulance Service of Fulton County. But the Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps announced in June it was trying to work out an agreement with Empire Ambulance of Troy for patient transport.

The corps eventually sold the property behind its building to Townsend.

Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps board President Duane Abbott didn’t return phone calls this week seeking comment.

Beckett said that in discussions with both Johnstown Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps and medical helicopter firm Life Net, it was determined that a medical helicopter hadn’t landed or taken off from the corps’ property in several years. He said in the Johnstown area, LifeNet currently utilizes both the Johnstown Moose Lodge on Route 30A and the Fulton County Airport on Route 67 as staging areas, or goes directly to the EMS scene.

Townsend Leather said Life Net approved of the parking lot sale, and the company also worked with the nearby Johnstown Fire Department, which utilizes its own ambulance.

“We didn’t want to do a disservice to downtown,” Beckett said.

He said the sale went through, although he wouldn’t say how much Townsend paid for the property. He said the company now has about 60 to 65 ideal parking spots it needs and the land went from being off the tax rolls to on the tax rolls.

“It really is a moot problem,” Beckett said.

Townsend Leather on Townsend Avenue has been making leather in Johnstown since 1969.

The former Diana Knitting Mill is a three-parcel, multi-building connected complex that has been empty for more than 16 years. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth has been working with Townsend Leather on its expansion project. Stitchery Realty LLC and the JC Group LLC — on behalf of Townsend — renovated the Diana complex at the corner of North Perry and Grove streets. The complex includes a 66,000-square-foot building, of which 47,000 square feet is a three-story, former knitting mill; and a 19,000-square-foot, two-story addition built in 1988 with conveyer system.

The project is expected to create at least 50 to 60 new jobs to start.

Editor’s note: LifeNet used the helicopter pad in 2018 after a woman suffered severe facial injuries.

By Patricia Older

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