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Community Services finds space by buying Oak Street office site

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled was growing so fast it had to convert storage closets into office space and put desks in hallways.

The congestion even prevented the nonprofit agency from hiring new staffers, said Mark R. Foley, president and chief executive officer.

"We're a relatively young organization, but we've expanded," Foley said. "We've outgrown all of our office space."

Now the organization appears to have found an answer to its space needs: It has purchased a three-story office building and another parcel at Oak Street and Broadway from Harold L. Gantzer.

The agency paid $729,950 for 180 Oak St., the former home of NOVA American Group and NOVA Casualty Co., and $327,050 for an adjacent vacant parcel at 56-60 Broadway.

"I think we got a good deal," Foley said. "The bank appraisal was $1.8 million."

Foley anticipates his agency will spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars on interior and exterior renovations of the 24,000-square-foot facility.

He hopes to be able to move about 80 administrative workers into the building by March.

"We've been searching for the right building for a good half a year or so," he said. "This is kind of a midpoint for our services. And secondly, the access is tremendous off of Oak Street."

Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled currently has its headquarters at 452 Delaware Ave., with administrative offices also on Genesee Street and in Lackawanna and Kenmore. Program and clinical staff will move into the Delaware Avenue site once administrators relocate to the renovated Oak Street facility.

Founded in 1989, the agency employs more than 500 full- and part-time staffers in about 40 programs, including group homes and other housing, job training, support for parents with developmental disabilities and case management.

It received more than $16 million in government contracts and grants last year, according to its annual report.

Gantzer owned the parcel on Broadway, used for parking, since 1976.

He was part owner of the office building with NOVA Casualty Co. for many years, until 2006, when he paid $450,000 to buy out NOVA's stake in the property.

The building dates back to 1928 and was the former home of John E. Smith Co., which manufactured machinery for butcher shops, said Gantzer.

It was converted into a modern office building when NOVA bought it. It has been unoccupied since NOVA moved to the Larkin at Exchange office building in 2005.


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