NORTH TONAWANDA – Platter’s Chocolates is moving, but it won’t be leaving its hometown in North Tonawanda.
The Common Council discussed the plan at its work session Tuesday night, learning that the company plans to leave its longtime home on Oliver Street in favor of a larger site in the Wurlitzer Building on Niagara Falls Boulevard.
The $1 million expansion plan would allow the business to add a second production line and expand to 25,000 square feet, which would include a retail space, said Community Development Director Michael D. Zimmerman. He said the company has asked the city to apply on its behalf for $100,000 in federal block grant funds for economic development.
“How can you go wrong with economic development and job creation?” said Alderman-at-Large Robert E. Pecoraro.
“And they want to say here,” added 2nd Ward Alderwoman Donna L. Braun
Platter’s owner Joseph Urban and his brother-in-law, John DiGuiseppe, who is the company sales manager, discussed the move with The Buffalo News prior to the meeting and said they would like to make the move by September.
Urban said the Platter family started the business in a basement on East Felton Street, which the Urban family purchased in 1973. They have been at the site on Oliver Street since 1975 and expanded from 3,000 to 17,000 square feet in 2000. In the move the company will take over a portion of the first floor of the Wurlitzer Building.
They also plan to have an open floor plan that will allow them to welcome bus tours that will be to watch the chocolate-making process behind a glass partition.
“It will be quite a venture,” said DiGuiseppe, who said they are also seeking other funding for the plan. He said 33,000 cars pass the Wurlitzer building each day and it is on the route for bus tours.
Urban said the current site at 954 Oliver was hidden in a residential area.
“You’re not coming to Platter’s unless you are coming to Platter’s,” said Urban. “We are looking to capture a lot of the people going up and down the Boulevard and get them to stop.”
The Common Council also was informed that Rock One Development received unanimous site plan approval from the city Planning Board to build a proposed $14 million, 102-unit apartment/townhouse project called River’s Edge at 600 River Road, north of East Pier Marina.
The plan was presented to the Common Council in January, but further progress on it was stalled when the Niagara County Planning Board overwhelming rejected the proposal. After reworking the plan, which included adding more details and widening the proposed access road, the county Planning Board approved it on Feb. 22.
City Attorney Katherine D. Alexander told the Council that the project still has a number of contingencies and needs final approval from City Engineer Dale W. Marshall on sanitary sewers, approval of a hydration flow plan from the city fire department as well as building permits. It also needs approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the county Department of Health. The plan also needs approvals from the city Zoning Board, which must grant variances for the height of the two, four-story apartment buildings, the location of the project on the waterfront and the density.
The Council also discussed lifting the winter parking ban, which does not officially expire until April 15.
Several other cities, including Buffalo, lifted their ban on Tuesday, but City Clerk-Treasurer Daniel R. Quinn said it would not be lifted that night. Quinn suggested officials look at the upcoming weather forecast and discuss lifting the ban at their meeting next week.
He said the city lifted the ban early, on April 1, in 2013.