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IDA Approves Incentives for Pair of Downtown Area Redevelopment Projects

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) approved $1.35 million in tax abatement packages, which its sister agency, the Regional Development Corporation, approved a $1.25 million loan which will benefit three Buffalo projects totaling $57.3 million in new investment.

The ECIDA Board approved a $1.18 million package of sales and mortgage recording tax for 500 Seneca, LLC to convert the sprawling, former F.N. Burt box manufacturing plant to a mix of Class A office space and a nonprofit job training center. 

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500 Seneca_Exterior-NIGHT_FINAL

500 Seneca, LLC, a partnership involving Frontier Group of Companies (FGC) and Savarino Development Corp., plans to redevelop the former box factory into 300,000 square feet of Class A office space and a nonprofit job training center. The ECIDA board approved $1.18 million in sales tax and mortgage recording tax abatements to assist the $31.7 million project where work recently started.

The vacant structure, which covers a full block, is listed on the National Register of Historic places and was in danger of demolition due to deterioration.  It is also located on a brownfield site.

A key component of the project, located at 500 Seneca Street in the Larkin District, is creating a home for the BCOME Buffalo job training program and the Management Services Organization Center.  Both entities operate in collaborative partnerships with The Matt Urban Center, The Old First Ward Community Association and the University District Community Development Corporation.

FGC, an international industrial demolition and reclamation firm will co-anchor the project boosting its local employment from 20 to 31 full-time staffers, plus three part-time workers.

The revitalized structure will feature a three-story entry and make use of two internal courtyards, while keeping the industrial feel of its brick walls and original wood floors.

The ECIDA board also approved $259,000 in tax abatements for an $8.1 million adaptive reuse project at 141 Elm St., the home of the former EM Hager & Sons lumber mill. The Planing Mill, as the site will be renamed, will be converted to 22 one- and two-bedroom apartments.  The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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In addition to the loft-style apartments, Elm Michigan Holdings, LLC, which has ties to the TM Montante Development group, will create commercial space on the first floor of the complex. C&S Engineers, Inc. will occupy 6,500-square-feet of that space when it moves from a nearby site on Broadway.

The redevelopment will also benefit from TM Montante’s experience in the solar energy arena.  The project will pursue LEED Gold certification via installation of various solar arrays to provide a portion of the building’s energy needs and local sourcing of most building materials.

The 44,000-square-foot former lumber mill, which dates back to 1878, saw new life in the late 1980’s when the Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant chain invested $1.5 million to convert it to an eatery.  Following the restaurant’s closure, it reopened as two, short-lived nightclubs.

The ECIDA also took action to sell its ownership stake in Advantage 24/7, a Buffalo firm which provides marketing data services to the beer and spirits industry.  In the early 2000s, the agency funded two venture capital loans to the business, previously known as totaling $750,000.

The business weathered rough financial times due to software issues, but it is now considered stable and poised for growth. The ECIDA previously converted one of the loans to a 35 percent equity share.  The agency will recoup $40,000 from sale of its share to Advantage 24/7.

The Regional Development Corporation, the agency’s sister entity which provides direct loans to businesses, today approved a $1.25 million loan to Ontario Specialty Contracting (OSC) Holdings, Inc. and OSC Manufacturing and Equipment Services, Inc.

In August, ECIDA board members okayed $355,135 in abatements for OSC to support a $17.5 million project on the former American Axle site, at 1001 East Delevan Avenue in Buffalo.

The Buffalo company, led by Jon Williams, is relocating its manufacturing group from 333 Ganson St., Buffalo to the former American Axle site, while creating a new division focusing on “green tech” equipment.

The first product in its new line will be the OSC Green Machine, a mini-excavator, powered by a lithium ion battery, rather than fossil fuels.  The first-of-its kind excavator, which is noise- and emission-free, is already attracting interest from a major utility company.

The five-year, $1.25 million loan will be used for new equipment, tools and building upgrades to support the Green Machine’s development.

The ECIDA board also approved a short-term lease for its former headquarters building at 143 Genesee St. in downtown Buffalo.  HealthNow New York will lease the vacant office space for a two to three-month period for use as a union negotiation site.  HealthNow will pay the ECIDA $5,900 a month for use of the space.

Written by Buffalo Rising

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