Conte federal records building sold to company with Berkshire ties
PITTSFIELD -- The Silvio O. Conte National Records Center building on Conte Drive has been sold to a New York City-based company that specializes in acquiring real estate and leasing it to the federal government.
Elman Pittsfield Associates LLC, a subsidiary of Elman Investors of New York, N.Y., purchased the 13.7-acre property for $5.85 million, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds.
The Pittsfield archive, which maintains military and civilian records, opened in 1994 and is one of 18 federal record centers in the United States and one of only three in the Northeast. The others are in Boston and Philadelphia.
Elman purchased the building at 10 Conte Drive from a limited liability company based in Charlotte, N.C.
Lee Elman, a principal in Elman Investors, said his company intends to keep the 138,744-square-foot facility as it is.
"We like the building very much," Elman said. "We intend to keep the existing management. The only risk in this building is the non-renewability of the lease."
The federal government has a six-year lease with his company for the use of the structure, Elman said.
"I hope they're going to renew it, and I feel strongly that they will," he said.
Elman, who has owned a second home in Great Barrington for 43 years, said he was interested in buying a government building close to his residence.
"I've always been looking for a government deal in my backyard, and I'd never found anything," he said.
"This happened to be part of a package," he said. "We negotiated a separation of the properties, and the Pittsfield deal survived."
Elman Pittsfield Associates has also obtained a $4.2 million mortgage on the property with Berkshire Bank.
Founded in 1979, Elman Investors currently owns 78 government buildings, the majority of them in the United States, including a $43.5 million technologically advanced building in Omaha, Neb., that it leases to the FBI.
"We've been doing this for 20 years now," said Elman. "We're No. 1 in the United States."
Elman Investors also owns shopping centers, offices complexes, warehouses, research and development facilities, and light processing plants, but in recent years has concentrated on acquiring properties that it can lease to federal, state and county governments.
He said the federal government likes to lease the properties where it maintains facilities because it can save money on real estate costs.
"Rather than have more capital in bricks-and-mortar occupancy costs, they can put their money into programming," Elman said.
In 2011, the federal government closed the microfilm room at the Conte archive building due to budget cuts. That facility, which contained 88,000 rolls of film including U.S. Census and immigrant records, is now located at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield.
"We would like to bring it back, but that's not our decision," Elman said.
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