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OFFICIALS SAY SESSION ON REDEVELOPMENT WAS A SUCCESS

Although they won't meet again for a month, city officials said a negotiating session last week with Rochester developer Ben Kendig was a success.

Kendig was the only developer to respond to the city's request for proposals for redevelopment of Richmond Avenue, a run-down one-block street on the north bank of the Erie Canal adjacent to the locks.

The Richmond Avenue Committee of Greater Lockport Development Corp., a city agency, has held two negotiating sessions with Kendig, on Aug. 21 and Wednesday. The next is not until Oct. 19.

Mayor Thomas C. Sullivan said, "I don't see any problems. (Kendig) needs a month to do some work. Nothing's official, but it will be (settled)."

Community Development Director William J. Evert said, "It should be ironed out by the next meeting. It's moving forward. (Wednesday's) was a very positive meeting."

Kendig did not return a call seeking comment, but Sullivan said Kendig asked to be hired as a consultant on the environmental cleanup of the block, a preliminary to demolition of some of the buildings.

Kendig would be paid for that, but Sullivan said the likely cost would be less than $1,500. The mayor said Kendig's consulting could help reduce the expense of what is estimated to be a $400,000 cleanup.

The city received a $1 million federal grant to pay for acquiring and clearing the site, and a $237,500 state cleanup grant was approved in January.

Kendig's proposal called for saving four buildings on the block, including the original home of what is now Delphi Harrison Thermal Systems. It was founded at 57 Richmond Ave. in 1910.

Kendig's proposal estimated that the four buildings could be restored to their 19th century appearance and made into business-ready space for $809,000.

But he sought a $600,000 low-interest loan from the city and a 40-year lease on the block, which would be tax-exempt for the first several years of the project.

Sullivan said he will meet this week with InteGreyted Consultants of Syracuse, already chosen as the project manager for the cleanup, to begin negotiating a contract. The mayor said he expects that InteGreyted will subcontract the actual work, which includes removal of underground storage tanks and asbestos.

InteGreyted was hired on a $20,000 contract in March to prepare a work plan for the cleanup.

Sullivan said the actual remedial work is at least two months away.

The city has acquired all but one of the buildings it plans to buy on the block, and the last one, the Licata Brothers vending business, could be bought this week, Sullivan said.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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