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Town agency gets loan to revive industrial site

Vacant industrial land along Route 5 in Hamburg will soon be in the hands of one of the town's economic-development agencies, thanks to a loan from the town.

The property, located on both sides of Bayview Road, has been vacant for years, and the town hopes it becomes an industrial park. It is one of the few remaining parcels in the town that is zoned industrial. Despite its frontage along Route 5 (Lake Shore Road), the previous owners, including steel companies ArcelorMittal, Mittal and Bethlehem Steel, have not developed it.

"We feel it's a very attractive piece of property," said Michael J. Bartlett, executive director of the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency, who said that over the years, several companies have expressed interest.

The problem has been the unwillingness of the steel companies to subdivide the 145-acre site, Bartlett said. "They did not want to be developers, they wanted to sell the total property to one buyer," he said. " We've been trying to get that land on the market for almost 19 years."

Supervisor Steven J. Walters said, "There's been a lot of interest in that property, but never the entire parcel."

The cost of the property is $805,000. Hamburg New York Land Development Corp. obtained a $75,000 loan from the Hamburg IDA for the down payment, and is borrowing $730,000 from the Hamburg town-outside-village fund. The interest rate is 2 percent, payable Dec. 31 of each year. The principal is due as parcels are subdivided and sold.

ArcelorMittal last month sold the former Bethlehem Steel Galvanized Products Division complex on Route 5 in Lackawanna, including the idle Bethlehem Cold Mill. The steel company shut the plant down in May 2009 after it curtailed U.S. steel production. Mittal took over the plant in 2005. The steel company will retain the mineral rights and will keep ownership of about three acres.

The development company will have to plan, fund and build infrastructure on the vacant land, which has the potential for rail along with motor vehicle access. Bartlett acknowledged that traffic safety also must be considered. "It's a very dangerous intersection. That's going to have to be addressed," he said.

The nonprofit Hamburg New York Land Development Corp. was created to help finance improvements at Hilbert College. While it would come off the tax rolls when the corporation takes ownership, officials believe that the potential for taxes on developed land is greater with the town's economic arms marketing the site.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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