ENrG, Inc, a manufacturer of ceramic components for clean energy systems will be moving to the historic rehab project at 127 Cherry Street recently announced by Rocco Termini. Termini is joining forces with John Olenick, President/CEO of ENrG to convert the five-story brick warehouse overlooking the Kensington Expressway to office and manufacturing space. ENrG will be relocating from a City-owned business incubator at 155 Rano Street in Black Rock.
ENrG Inc. specializes in the development and manufacture of ceramic membrane and coating technologies for energy applications such as solid oxide fuel cells and gas separation membranes. For the last five years, the firm has been in the research and development phase of their business. Next year, it will begin production.
The firm plans to occupy 30,000 sq.ft. initially, half of which will be a clean room. The balance of the space in the 65,000 sq.ft. building will be mothballed but Termini expects the company to fully occupy the space within three years. Currently employing 14, ENrG expects to add 16 employees in the near-term at an average annual salary of $34,000.
Since the building is eligible to be placed on the National Historic Register, Termini will be able to utilize historic preservation tax credits. He will also be tapping into funding available through LISC, a grant from National Grid, New Markets Tax Credits, and funding from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. To reduce occupancy costs, Termini and ENrG plan on installing a geothermal heating system at the property, expect to receive an allocation of low cost power from the New York Power Authority and will apply for a real estate tax abatement because of its location within the Empire Zone.
Architecture and design firm Carmina Wood Morris has been retained to design the project. The façade will be repaired and cleaned, new windows installed, and mechanicals will be upgraded. Work on the $6.8 million project will start in the spring.
Termini hopes to convert other vacant manufacturing and warehouse buildings into incubator space targeting small and growing companies. With incentives, underutilized buildings can be brought back to life by creating high-quality space at reasonable lease rates and low operating costs.
"If the model works, we'll look at other buildings," says Termini.
Termini says he has been following the discussion on Buffalo Rising concerning 311 Genesee Street, not far from the Cherry Street project. A strong advocate for preservation, Rocco didn't offer much hope for the property because of its size. "It is tough to make the numbers work on a small building. By the time you add stairways and meet code, small floors become even smaller and it doesn't make financial sense."
The Genesee Street corridor has a lot of potential according to Termini, but it will take time.
"With the Medical Corridor nearby and UB's relocation plans, the area is well positioned for growth. We need the vision to look ten years out."
"We can't tear it all down; then there is no chance."