The Stone Mill building, one of the properties purchased by Rock City Development, LLC.
by Dave Warner
Dave Casullo and Neil Rosenbaum were both veterans from Raymour & Flanigan and while there, they established a strong friendship. Casullo had envisioned a housing development in an area called Overlook Ridge in Little Falls, and he had expressed his frustration about not being able to put enough time into the project to Rosenbaum.
Casullo also aspired to build a leadership facility in Little Falls at some point in the future on the property and to make it a destination for leaders from all over the region and the world.
Rosenbaum said, “Initially I got involved in that because I had left Raymour’s and was working in an entrepreneurial sort of environment, so my time was flexible.”
Through a combination of cash and sweat equity, Rosenbaum worked his way into becoming a partner in the property at Overlook Ridge. “As a result, I started spending a lot more time in Little Falls. I’d been here a number of times in the past because we had become friends, but I really liked the area.”
Rosenbaum had grown up not that far away, in Gloversville, so Little Falls kind of felt like home to him. “So, we started doing some residential development and some ideas for the leadership and development facility. In the meantime, some other local individuals contacted us, who were interested in uplifting and reinvigorating the area,” he said.
They decided to form a company that would put together a group of professionals who would amortize their time and effort around a number of different businesses that could either be started or purchased in Little Falls. So, Rock City Development, LLC was formed.
“We wanted to have a synergy, which would allow us to invest in opportunities within the City which would be profitable while uplifting the community,” Rosenbaum said.
One of the first investors in Rock City Development was very interested in the Opportunity Zone in Little Falls. “Having that made it attractive for us to invest in properties in the eastern end of the City, such as the Stone Mill building, with the idea that we’d turn that into more of a destination, driving the occupancy at the Inn and exposing more people to what that could offer,” he said.
Rosenbaum started to spend four to five days a week in Little Falls and got really personally involved in what was already happening in Little Falls. “Between the uplift in the region and an amazing amount of grass-roots efforts with all of the festivals that have such fantastic attendance and excitement, I felt that I had to be here,” he stated.
“It is invigorating to be part of it. I was seeing so many opportunities for properties that we could buy and renovate and bring back to life, and there were businesses that we saw that with our combined experience, we could improve as well,” Rosenbaum stated.
He said that the combination of the people in Little Falls, infrastructure that is here and ready to be renewed and renovated, plus the beauty of the river and the canal, the mountains and the proximity to the thruway, Utica, Albany and the closeness of the mid-west and east coast makes the area special.
“The Opportunity Zone is fundamental to the growth of the City. And, we’re seeing an amazing number of young people who are starting to either move back because they have family or they grew up here and find it a really appealing place to raise kids. Baby boomers who are in retirement see the vibrancy of the City as well,” he said.
“People are always attracted to things that are on the upswing. So, having the foundation of those attributes at the core of what’s going on…I think is critical. A lot of other areas don’t have that,” Rosenbaum stated.