Riverview Commerce Park is just getting started, but the Town of Tonawanda business park is already growing.
The site has added 75 acres, bringing its total to 180 acres, said Thomas M. Montante of Broad Elm Management, the park's master developer.
While Riverview is growing in size, Montante is sticking to his vision of keeping about 75 percent of the land "green" or in its natural setting.
The first building, tucked away along a winding road, has attracted two tenants, Sherex Industries and MetalMart. Together they fill about 60 percent of the space.
More development is imminent. Montante said work is about to begin on a second 80,000-square-foot building targeted for completion next February. The company will seek certification for that building under Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, or LEED, which rates properties in a host of "green" categories.
Plans are also taking shape on four office buildings near the park's entrance with a view of the Niagara River, Montante said. The park is just north of the Grand Island bridges.
For years, town officials had talked about the site's potential as a business park, said Robert Dimmig, executive director of the Town of Tonawanda Development Corp. The site's designation as an Empire Zone and Montante's willingness to step in as the developer helped make the project finally happen, he said.
"What I like particularly is the quality he is reaching for," Dimmig said.
Ronald Moline, supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda, acknowledged that the state's Empire Zone program has received some criticism, but he said it has served the town well. He also praised Montante for following through on his plans, saying it was an example of a project vision and reality coming together.
"In Western New York, we sometimes seem to suffer from a vision-reality gap," Moline said.
Montante and elected officials on Thursday held a ceremony to welcome Riverview's inaugural tenants.
Sherex Industries and a related company, Sherex Fastening Solutions, employ 27 people and expect to grow to 45 people over the next two years, said Andrew Johnson, president. Sherex supplies customers with expander plugs, which are used in hydraulic applications, and blind rivet nuts, which are used in a variety of sheet metal applications. The company is moving from Lancaster because it needed additional space, Johnson said. The park's setting was one factor that was appealing to Johnson and his business partners, Kevin Scherf and Adam Pratt.
MetalMart International has three employees and plans to grow in the next five years to at least 10 or 12 employees, said Scott Switzer, regional manager. The California-based company presently operates a sales office in Clarence. It supplies hard-to-find specialty metals, aerospace aluminum extrusions and wrought magnesium.
At last fall's groundbreaking, Montante said he envisioned a park with 11 buildings and total investment of $75 million. With the 75 acres added to the park, making it one of the region's largest business parks, he now estimates the complete site will consist of 15 buildings and total investment of $200 million.