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NYSEG purchases service center ; Pays $5.18 million to Lancaster owner

One of the state's biggest utility companies paid $5.18 million last week to buy its customer service and operations center in Lancaster from its landlord.

New York State Electric & Gas Corp., one of several U.S. subsidiaries of Spanish energy giant Iberdrola S.A., bought the property at 160 Erie St. from Columbia Lancaster Group LLC. The seller is registered to a post office box in Albany and could not be further identified.

Binghamton-based NYSEG has been leasing the 70,000-square-foot center, with a separate large garage, but the lease included an option to buy. A company analysis found that "purchasing it was the most economical course of action," said spokesman Clayton Ellis.

The Erie Street facility is one of NYSEG's 13 major customer service and operations centers across the state and is the base of operations in its Lancaster Division, which includes parts of Erie, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, with 150,000 electricity customers. The facility has about 130 employees.

NYSEG is owned by Energy East Corp. of Albany and Portland, Maine, which was acquired in 2008 by Iberdrola in an $8.6 billion deal. Besides NYSEG, Energy East and Iberdrola also own Rochester Gas & Electric, the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., the Berkshire Gas Co., Central Maine Power, Energetix, the Energy Network and Energy East Enterprises.

In other big deals, a Niagara Falls-based apartment management company acquired a 62-unit garden-style apartment complex in the city.

Apartments Niagara, owned by Jeff and Jerry Williams, paid $950,000 earlier this month, through Lafayette Square LLC, to buy the Lafayette Square Apartments from Lafayette Square Apartments LLC, owned by CRM Rental Management of Rome, N.Y.

The complex at 1736 Lafayette Ave. includes four two-story buildings with one-bedroom and studio apartments that rent for $350 to $400 per month, plus utilities. Tenants include an almost equal mix of senior citizens, college students and singles, said Jeff Williams, co-owner of Apartments Niagara.

CRM offers property management services for apartment complexes, commercial office buildings, medical centers and hotels, and currently operates 37 buildings or complexes across the state. Many are subsidized apartment buildings, although Lafayette is not. CRM also owns the Maryner Towers and Gethsemane Manor in Buffalo, and Monteagle Ridge Estates in Niagara Falls, across the street from Lafayette.

"This is a great deal. CRM managed the property very well," said Williams. "We're going to run it the way it's been run. It's been a well-managed property for a long time, and we're going to continue to operate it in the same manner CRM did."

Williams and his brother, Jerry, have been buying apartment buildings for about 10 years. The company currently owns more than 600 units in 15 apartment complexes in Niagara Falls, the Town of Niagara, Lewiston, Grand Island, Buffalo, Holland, Delevan and Jamestown. Several more are now under contract to be acquired, he said.

And the Silvestri family, owner of Silvestri Architects PC, sold its former building at 80 Pineview Drive in Amherst to the owner of Cheektowaga-based VoIP Supply, a global distributor of voice-over-Internet equipment.

Sayers Properties LLC, owned by Benjamin P. Sayers, president and CEO of VoIP Supply, paid $902,500 to buy the t office and warehouse building in the Audubon Industrial Park from 80 Pineview LLC, owned by Phil and Rick Silvestri.

Located on 1.5 acres, the building includes 8,500 square feet of office space, 7,500 square feet of warehouse space and 2,769 square feet of mezzanine space, with 18-foot ceilings, a loading dock and three grade-level doors. It was built in 1990.

Phil Silvestri owns Silvestri Architects, which was formerly based in the office portion of the building before it moved recently to 1321 Millersport Highway, where it is leasing space near Flint Road by University at Buffalo's North Campus, said James F. Dentinger, president of McGuire Development Group, who brokered the deal.

"It's a very marketable property. It didn't take us long to find a buyer," Dentinger said. And "we were able to keep the Silvestris in Amherst. That was their goal."

VoIP Supply was founded in 2002 by Sayers -- a self-described Canadian "serial entrepreneur" who has founded, built and sold several companies in the last 15 years.

The company, which employs 35, sells VoIP equipment and supplies to customers around the world.. It generates about $20 million in annual sales, with about 75 percent in the United States and 9 percent in Canada.

It's moving from a similar amount of space that it leased since 2003 at 454 Sonwil Drive in Cheektowaga, but "we purchased the building instead of leasing," Sayers said.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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