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ECIDA backs plan to move in with state agency IDA would share space with Empire State Development

The idea of a "one-stop shop" for economic development is getting closer to reality.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency is pushing ahead with a plan to move its offices into the Cobblestone District building that will house the local Empire State Development offices.

While the agency has not formally agreed to make the move, the agency is including the plans in its 2008 budget, which was approved on Monday.

"It's something we're serously considering, given the one-stop shop nature of the plan," said Andrew Schoeppich, the IDA's assistant treasurer. "We still have to look at the details and the board would have to approve any move."

Empire State Development and its Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. subsidiary are moving to an idle industrial warehouse complex at the corner of Perry and Mississippi streets, one block east of HSBC Arena.

Savarino Cos. and Avalon Development Corp., the owners of the former Benlin Distribution Services building, last month announced a $12 million plan to turn the five-story warehouse at 95 Perry St. into a mix of office, residential and retail space.

If the Erie County IDA goes ahead with the move, the agency expects to save about $50,000 a year in rent and other occupancy costs by sharing common space, such as conference rooms, with the state agency, Schoeppich said.

In the short-term, however, the move would drive up the agency's rent and facilities costs by nearly $100,000 because the IDA would have to absorb about $35,000 in moving expenses and also continue to pay its $62,500 in annual rent on its current offices at 275 Oak St.

IDA officials said they would try to sublease that space, possibly to the neighboring Enterprise Charter School, which has expressed interest in that space in the past.

Andrew J. Rudnick, the president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, said his business organization would not be moving to the Cobblestone District site "for the foreseeable future" because it and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise still have about 10 years remaining on the 15-year lease at its 665 Main St. offices.


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