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OFFICE PARK TARGETS SPILLOVER FROM AMHERST BUSINESS BOOM

The booming Amherst business market and fast-growing Wheatfield joined hands Wednesday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new Niagara County corporate park about a mile from the Erie County line.

The developer of the multimillion-dollar Woodlands Corporate Center, Calamar Enterprises, says it can draw some of the Amherst boom into Niagara County by combining cut-rate land prices with Wheatfield's low taxes.

Lots on the fully serviced land will sell for up to 75 percent less than parcels on the other side of the road in Erie County, said Calamar President Kenneth M. Franasiak.

With Amherst reaching saturation point, officials in the sprawling Erie County town welcomed the development.

"This is the first true step toward regional development in the 20 years I have been here," said James J. Allen, executive director of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency. "This is a wonderful project, and the timing couldn't be better. Amherst is at the end of its aggressive growth phase, and I see this park as an extension of what we've accomplished."

Allen's counterpart in Niagara County, John R. Simon, executive director of the county Industrial Development Agency, agreed wholeheartedly.

"This development is beyond a good thing -- it's wonderful," Simon told the guests gathered under a party tent on the 30-acre wooded site at the corner of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Shawnee Road.

Woodlands Corporate Center will create 300 jobs and attract $15 million in capital investment, said Franasiak. Construction of the first building, a $2.5 million, multiple-tenant facility -- the first of its kind to be built in Niagara County in 10 years -- has already begun.

"The Town of Wheatfield is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in Western New York," said Wheatfield Supervisor Timothy E. Demler. "We have become the shining town on the hill."

Wheatfield residents will see their fifth annual tax cut in a row when the town releases its budget Monday, Demler said.

"Of all the ribbon-cutting ceremonies I go to, Wheatfield has more than most, and Calamar is often there," said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-North Tonawanda, who lives less than a mile from the business park.

The price for fully serviced land on the 30-acre wooded site averages $30,000 an acre, compared with $125,000 an acre in neighboring Amherst. On a 30,000-square-foot parcel, that means a savings of $340,000, Franasiak said.

"The park has already met with great success," he said. "A third of the lots are spoken for." Franasiak declined to name the tenants until the groundbreaking ceremonies are held in about two weeks.

Some of the amenities available to tenants include utility discounts, fiber-optic infrastructure and on-site day care facilities for children.

"Marry Wheatfield's 22 percent growth rate with the tremendous growth in Amherst, and we've got a winner," Franasiak said.

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