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Lockport IDA has plan to expand industrial space in the town

The Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency is planning to do something about a lack of industrial space in the town.

The IDA board has received a draft site plan from the Wendel engineering firm for a 15,000-square-foot incubator building for small industries.

The project would be erected on a 1.8-acre parcel at Enterprise and IDA Park drives in the town industrial park, not far from the Yahoo data center.

"We have an opportunity to fill a need. We have a significant lack of available industrial buildings in the Town of Lockport," Economic Development Director David R. Kinyon said.

IDA Chairman Thomas A. Sy said $5,000 for engineering fees was included in this year's IDA budget.

IDA board members R. Thomas Weeks and Paul J. Haber were appointed to a building committee to review bids from companies that will be asked to provide a building design as well as construction cost estimates.

Kinyon said the building could be designed to be expandable if the demand for space is sufficient.

"There are a lot more people looking for 1,000 or 2,000 square feet than there are looking for 15,000 square feet," he said.

The shortage of available space has put a crimp in the town's development program, Kinyon said.

"Any of the inquiries we've received in the last three years for existing buildings, we have not been able to satisfy, with the exception of Franbilt on Akron Road and the Electruk Battery plant in the industrial park," he said. "Obviously, Electruk was a brownfield and was only on the market for a short time."

Moley Magnetics, a Wilson company forced out of its Shadigee Road plant by a fire last year, bought the recently cleaned-up Electruk building last summer and moved its business there.

Electruk was put out of business by a 1995 fire, and a cleanup of sulfuric acid and battery lead cost the town some $30,000. The 14,000-square-foot building was sold for $10,000, and the town IDA granted Moley a 15-year property tax break.

The 45,000-square-foot Franbilt site on Akron Road has been vacant for several years, and it's currently listed for sale by Industrial Realty and Funding, a Cheektowaga company owned by Brian Schectman, which bought the building for $925,000 at a 2008 bank foreclosure auction.

It's zoned industrial but located in a highly residential area; the business predated the zoning ordinance, Kinyon said.

"Even when Franbilt was operating the facility, there were complaints from neighbors," Kinyon said. The town restricted the former metal fabrication company's hours of operation and noise levels.

"It does limit the kinds of uses for the building," Kinyon said.

On another topic, Kinyon said talks with Yahoo to sell the company more land in the industrial park for a data center expansion are not yet complete. He said Yahoo, which plans to add jobs in Lockport despite 2,000 layoffs companywide announced earlier this month, is carrying out a site survey.