The coronavirus may have delayed some progress in the Mohawk Valley, but construction officials for the Cree Wolfspeed Mohawk Valley Fab at the Marcy Nanocenter site continue to forge ahead with plans to complete three large buildings by early 2021.
Work has continued throughout the pandemic as the site was deemed essential.
The project's general contractor, Exyte, submitted a site plan to the Town of Marcy near the beginning of the year that showed the buildings included a fabrication facility, an office and a central utility building.
Exyte officials said Monday that the April 2021 target date still was in reach.
"We are working through some obstacles due to COVID-19, but that's what we're working towards," said Russell Cameron of Exyte.
Cameron said in a follow-up interview Tuesday that the problems are much the same that other companies are facing, such as prioritizing the health and safety of workers. He said they are implementing all necessary protocols and taking precautions.
Cameron made his original comments Monday night during a Town of Marcy Planning Board meeting that was held virtually. The regularly scheduled meeting included a technical site plan review of the Cree site, including access drives, utility connections, fencing and parking.
Cree announced plans in September to build a $1 billion, 200 mm silicon carbide wafer fabrication facility at the Marcy Nanocenter, the largest facility of its kind in the world. The company has committed to hiring at least 614 employees over the next eight years.
The project is on 56.25 acres at the northern end of the 398-acre nanocenter site — which has room for two more fabrication facilities.
Cree is paying for the facility, but is leasing the land from the state for 49 years. The state will reimburse up to $500 million of Cree's investment through performance-based, capital grants from Empire State Development.
But the path toward site construction has been a long time coming.
The state and Mohawk Valley EDGE have invested two decades in planning and $110 million in infrastructure improvements at the nanocenter site. Marcy approved a preliminary site plan for the entire nanocenter site in October 2015.
Steven J. DiMeo, president of Mohawk Valley EDGE, said Cree will help revolutionize the Mohawk Valley.
"It was 12 months ago when we first made contact with Cree on the opportunity to locate their state-of-the-art 200 mm enabled SiC semiconductor facility at Marcy Nanocenter," DiMeo said. "Fast forward 12 months, and construction is underway for this exciting project.
"Cree is at the center of revolutionizing both the power electronics industry and the Mohawk Valley economy. This project really builds on the momentum being generated by dozens of projects that are currently underway across the region. Despite the current economic uncertainty, one thing for sure is that the Mohawk Valley will rise above," DiMeo said.
A short public hearing on the plans was held Monday evening prior to the board's meeting. No one from the public spoke.
During the meeting – which lasted roughly 45 minutes – Cameron answered some questions from the board and gave a brief photo presentation of work being done on the site.
He said more than 50,000 hours worth of work has been done on the site, including site mobilization and foundation work. He added that the foundation was just poured for the fabrication facility.
Here's a breakdown of building plans, according to a project overview by Exyte from earlier this year:
Fabrication building: A 454,000-square-foot building will be built on four levels, creating a footprint of about 150,000 square feet. It will include about 112,000 square feet of cleanroom space. It will be connected to the administration building.
Administration building: A four-level, 85,000-square-foot building will sit on an approximately 25,000-square-foot footprint. It will include open office space, a cafeteria, a gym, common space, a main lobby entrance and a clean gown room.
Central utility building: About a 100,000-square-foot, two-level building, taking up about 75,000 square feet of space, with room for a boiler, chiller, electrical systems and other infrastructure. It will support the fab through an above-ground utility trestle.
Other exterior features: These will include a bulk gas yard, an air separation plant, an electric yard, a silane (a gas) pad, exterior generators and cooling towers and transformers. Two guardhouses will be built on the site, one on the main access drive on the eastern side of the site and one on the service drive coming off the ring road on the west. A parking lot with about 375 spaces will go in front of the administration building.
The Marcy Zoning Board said CREE is planning a separate online update about the overall project, according to an email from the board. No timetable was given.
Observer-Dispatch reporter Amy Roth contributed to this article.