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Tulip Molded Plastics in line for $1 million to help built new plant

A Niagara Falls plastics manufacturer that has threatened to move to Indiana is in line to receive $1 million from the New York Power Authority to help it build a new plant on a former brownfield that city officials hope to turn into a business park.

The funding recommended Tuesday by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board is the latest in a series of steps that state and local economic development agencies have taken to keep Tulip Molded Plastics Corp. in Niagara Falls and help it build a new $10.4 million factory.

“It’s not just relief, but excitement,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. “I think this was the final big step.”

Tulip already has received $1.9 million in tax breaks, spread over 15 years, from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, along with a $550,000 state grant. The company also receives 1,500 kilowatts of low-cost hydropower from the Power Authority.

Tulip, which employs 81 people, operates out of a 114-year-old factory that its owners say is no longer practical or cost competitive. State officials said Tulip’s owners, Connecticut-based Saugatuck Capital, have been pushing to move the company out of New York, spurring a concerted effort convince the firm to stay. Tulip also has a plant in Milwaukee.

The funding, which still must be approved by the Power Authority’s board of trustees, would help Tulip build a 70,000-square-foot factory next door to its current facility on Highland Avenue, on the site of a former Prestolite battery plant that closed in the 1970s.

Aside from preserving the jobs at Tulip, Dyster said the funding also would help jump start development on the property, owned by Brightfield Corp., that has taken years – and $17 million – to clean up.

“To see the first location of an industrial plant there is very gratifying,” said Dyster, whose grandfather worked at the battery factory on the site during the Great Depression.

The panel also recommended that several other projects receive funding:

• The Darwin Martin House would receive $700,000 toward the latest stage of the restoration of the Buffalo home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The funding would go toward a $4.1 million phase of the restoration to restore interior wood trim and built-in cabinetry, along with paint and plaster finishes and the recreation of an elaborate fireplace mosaic.

• Eden vegetable and flower grower Amos Zittel & Sons would receive $380,000 toward its $1.96 million project to replace its greenhouse complex destroyed during the November 2014 snowstorm. The upgraded greenhouse space, covering two acres off Route 62, would allow the business to grow flowers that it can sell directly, as well as finished flowers and rooted liners that are sold to other retailers. The project also will expand Zittel’s ability to grow organic vegetables in the greenhouse.

• D’Youville College is in line to receive $400,000 for a $26.7 million project to convert the former Gateway Longview building at 605 Niagara St. into a new facility for its School of Arts, Sciences and Education. The 85,000-square-foot building will feature 19 labs and nine smart classrooms. The project also will free up space for D’Youville’s involvement in the Start-Up NY program that allows growing businesses with ties to approved colleges and universities to operate tax-free for up to a decade.

“We’ve been approved for Start-Up NY, but we have absolutely no space on campus,” said D’Youville’s president, Sister Denise A. Roche.