It often takes only a little environmental contamination to scare off developers, which is why officials were beaming Tuesday over CertainTeed Corp.'s new Buffalo plant being the first site in the state to be certified under New York's brownfield cleanup program.
"We want to blow away some myths," said Peter Cammarata, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency's director of urban development. "We were ahead of the pack as far as this is concerned."
Being certified by the state Department of Environmental Conservation is a big deal for Krog Corp., the project's developer, because it now is eligible for lucrative brownfields tax credits that can offset the costs of site cleanup and redevelopment.
"The tax credits are very lucrative," Cammarata said.
Those tax credits can equal 10 percent to 14 percent of certain project costs, including expenses associated with site investigation and cleanup, as well as costs associated with buildings and even paved parking lots.
"These are major costs that are normal expenses that can be applied toward the tax credit," Cammarata said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the brownfield tax credits give economic development officials a second big incentive for sites like the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park along the Union Ship Canal, which also is part of an Empire Zone.
"We plan to use those double benefits to our advantage," Brown said. "Buffalo, being an older industrial city, has a lot of brownfields."
CertainTeed is the first tenant in the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, which has 250 acres of developable land at what once was the home of Hanna Furnace. More than 80 acres of land already have been turned into what development officials call a "shovel ready" site.
CertainTeed, which makes vinyl fence railing and deck, employs almost 300 people at its 240,000-square-foot Buffalo plant, said Darren Campbell, the company's vice president and general manager of outdoor products. The Buffalo plant combined the company's previous operations in Cheektowaga with work that was moved here from a plant in Kansas.
"This area here has been vacant for 20-some years," said Abby Snyder, the acting director for the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Region 9. "It has made it a viable and very marketable piece of property."
Cobey Inc., a Clarence-based maker of compressor assemblies and other products for the oil and power industries, has purchased 12 acres of land in the park to build a 100,000-square-foot facility and become the center's second tenant.
Peter L. Krog, the president of Krog Corp., said he initially was skeptical about getting involved in a brownfield project, but was able to work through the process with help from environmental firm Malcolm Pirnie. "It was not easy," he said. "There's a lot involved in the brownfield program."
Krog now is overseeing construction on the Cobey project.