Larkin buys adjacent brownfields site on Seneca Street - The Buffalo News

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Larkin buys adjacent brownfields site on Seneca Street

Howard A. Zemsky’s Larkin Development Group has acquired a former light-industrial and dry-cleaning site adjacent to the expanding Larkvinville holdings.

Zemsky, through Mill Race Commons LLC, paid $300,000 this week to buy a 2.92-acre brownfields parcel at 822 Seneca St. that has been cleared of all buildings and is in the midst of a state-supervised environmental cleanup.

The property had been owned by AmeriPride Services, formerly American Linen Supply Co., which had owned it since 1978 and operated uniform dry-cleaning and laundry businesses there until April 2004.

The vacant land, assessed at $46,800, is at Seneca and Lord streets, on an opposite corner from the planned site of the Flying Bison Brewery at 840 Seneca and directly across from 111 Hydraulic St., which Zemsky acquired a couple of years ago and remediated.

Zemsky said he has “no specific plan for it at this point” but will “incorporate that site into the planning that we’re currently doing for the district.” He said he expects to have a more specific plan for it by the middle of the year.

But he called the newly acquired property the “last significant strategic large site in Larkinville” and said he has “been interested” in the property “for a while.” He noted that his firm now owns “two multi-acre sites directly across the street from one another.”

The AmeriPride property has a history of industrial use dating back more than a century, when it was used as a bookbinding and printing facility from 1910 to 1978. Coverall Service and Supply Co. operated a uniform dry-cleaning facility there until 1985, and a portion of the building was used by Thorner-Sydney Press until 1997.

After laundry operations ceased in 2004, the site was used temporarily by a vehicle maintenance shop, but the on-site building had been empty since July 2005. However, the property contained six underground storage tanks at one time, with gas, diesel, oil and alcohol. Four have been sealed in place, while two have been removed.

Currently, the property is fenced in, with a sign proclaiming that it is undergoing remediation under the state’s Brownfields Cleanup Program.

The former 80,000-square-foot building was demolished by AmeriPride in 2012, and contaminated soil was removed. Excavation and basement areas were also backfilled, but an environmental investigation found soil and water contamination, according to state Department of Environmental Conservation documents. Much of the current contamination relates to dry-cleaning solvents.

The site is now mostly cleaned to an “industrial classification” for reuse, the lowest level of cleanup, Zemsky said. AmeriPride is still finishing up the work it is obliged to complete under its agreement with the DEC, but should be done within the first half of this year.

At that point, “we’ll assess whether or not we want to keep it as an industrial site and find an appropriate use, or whether we choose to clean some portion of the site to a higher standard because we have some different use,” Zemsky said.

Zemsky’s acquisition marks another development in the growth of the Larkin District, an industrial neighborhood anchored by the sprawling former Larkin Soap Co. buildings that had largely languished for years. He converted one of the biggest warehouses into the Larkin at Exchange Building, now an office complex, and built off that success to acquire and redevelop several other nearby buildings and public space, now called Larkin Square.

Like the AmeriPride property, the site at 111 Hydraulic was also cleared of buildings and has now been fully remediated, but to a “residential standard.”

Zemsky said it’s “almost certainly” going to be a mixed-use building, with commercial, retail and possibly some residential space.

“We have pretty much unlimited flexibility for what we do to that site,” he said.


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