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‘Very open to ideas’ as Paladino, partner buy Buffalo River parcel

Development along the Buffalo River is picking up more steam as Carl Paladino and investment partner Victor Liberatore teamed up Wednesday to bid $2.17 million at a public auction and buy waterfront property next to the RiverWorks entertainment facility.

Paladino, founder and chairman of Ellicott Development Co., said he didn’t have any specific plans yet for the 13-acre parcel at 201 Ganson St., former home of Man O’ Trees. Indeed, he hadn’t even originally planned on bidding.

“Our plans are very fluid. We’re very open to ideas,” he said. “I’m not thinking of anything right now. When I got up this morning, I wasn’t planning on buying anything.”

But he cited strong potential for the property, which currently has five buildings totaling 54,544 square feet.

Originally home to American Ship Builders, the site is down the street from General Mills Corp. and across the street from Archer Daniels Midland.

“It’s an interesting piece of property,” Paladino said. “I wouldn’t have bid that number five years ago.”

In particular, he noted the increased attention and interest in that part of the city, with significant new development now taking place.

“I’ve been interested in the South Main corridor for 25 years. There’s a new focus here, and we’re very hopeful for the new stadium being down here,” he said. “We want to be the leader in development down here.”

And he said he expected to put the property to a commercial or entertainment use, possibly capitalizing on the success of Doug Swift’s RiverWorks, with its winter ice skating and other features that have drawn new visitors to that part of the city.

“They’re making a statement there. I think that’s awesome,” Paladino said.

The property, with 1,700 feet, or about a quarter-mile, of direct waterfront access, is directly across the river from Ohio Street, where Ellicott is already working on two projects that are expected to start construction within the next six months.

Ellicott spent $1.25 million to clean up a property at 300 Ohio St., where it plans to put up a 100,000-square-foot office building. Across the street, at 301 Ohio, the developer is planning the first of three buildings, with four stories, that will include apartments on the upper levels and a restaurant and bar on the first floor.

The second project, which is located between the street and the river, will also include docks for tenant access to the water.

William Paladino, CEO of Ellicott Development and son of Carl, said there’s no rush to act on the new property, which also has to be evaluated for environmental suitability.

He noted that the existing buildings on the Ganson site can be reused and that there’s abundant land for storage or even parking cars for RiverWorks.

And, like his father, he also cited “just a lot of excitement about the area” south of Interstate 190.

“It’s a great piece of property. It’s something we can carry,” William Paladino said. “… The ultimate use for this property is something that will have to be decided in the future. We’re under no urgency to do anything with it.”