The Aqua Vino building, which sits along the Barge Canal, is currently owned by the City of Utica. Utica officials have decided to sell the waterfront property, and have 2 bidders. Ken Roser, who owns and operates a number of businesses adjacent to the Aqua Vino property, and a bid from Aqua Vino Restaurant Owner Rob Esche submitted under the name Mohawk Valley Garden.
The City issued a Request for a Proposal or RFP from both parties. According to the Observer Dispatch, Rob Esche plans on making improvements to the building, as well as expanding the restaurant by adding 10-12 employees. Ken Roser’s plan is to honor Aqua Vino’s lease, and make improvements to the property as well. Aqua Vino currently has 4 years left on the lease, with an option of extending it another 5 years.
We were unable to reach Rob Esche for comment, but again the Observer Dispatch explains “While Esche said he feels Mohawk Valley Garden’s bid price on Aqua Vino was low, he believes that is balanced by the group’s proposed vision.”
Ken Roser tells us Mayor of Utica Robert Palmieri led him to believe Esche’s vision involved a grand plan.
"If there was, as there was inferred, a much, much, much larger project going on that piece of land, then I would happily say no he can have it because I will win by virtue of just being next to him."
The proposals have not been publicly released, but Roser believes he has the highest bid. The City is also using business proposals for the property as part of the criteria in their decision. It’s that factor that has Ken Roser concerned.
"I’d like to know where someone’s going to be able to justify not giving it to the high bidder if in fact those are the circumstances we’re dealing with. If they’re not, then I’m perfectly good with losing the bid to Rob and the group if they’re going to build something that big because I win either way."
The Utica Industrial Development Agency is expected to issue a decision on the winning bid on Friday, October 26th.