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Vote set on sale of Canal St. building

City officials have decided it's time for Lockport Cave owner Thomas Callahan to put up or shut up when it comes to buying a building on Canal Street.

After a 50-minute closed-door session of the Greater Lockport Development Corp. on Thursday, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the Common Council will vote on the Callahan deal April 6.

The development agency approved the sale of 79-81 Canal St. to Callahan for $70,000 on Feb. 15, subject to Council approval. But Ottaviano said Callahan asked for a delay in the vote without giving a reason.

"The city's not going to wait any more on him," Ottaviano said. "Mr. Callahan has to make arrangements to come before the Common Council. That building has a lot of interest. We're turning away interested parties."

Callahan, who was expected to move the Lockport Cave offices to Canal Street, has first right to the building. As long as that's the case, no other buyers can get in, Ottaviano said.

Callahan didn't return a call seeking comment Thursday.

"He may want to show up to talk to the Council about the project, or he may call on the phone," Mayor Michael W. Tucker said. "I haven't talked to him in a few weeks, and I don't know if he even wants to pursue the project."

"Everyone wants to see some resolution," said Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, R-5th Ward.

The Greater Lockport Development Corp. board approved the Callahan deal the same day it approved a $90,000-a-year lease for Trek Inc. of Medina, a maker of electrostatic measuring equipment, to move its engineering and research departments to 57 Canal St.

That's the largest of the three refurbished city-owned buildings on that block alongside the Erie Canal. The building that Callahan was to buy is the smallest.

Anthony M. D'Auria of Waterbourne Real Estate Advisors, the Getzville company marketing Canal Street, said Trek finished moving its research and development staff to the second floor of 57 Canal on Wednesday. The engineering department is due to occupy the third floor by mid-April, and the first floor is still available for rent.

"Since Trek's been in, activity's picked up," Tucker said. "Tom [Callahan] was in first, but if he's not going to proceed, we'll have to go in a different direction."

All sales of Canal Street property must be approved by the Council, but leases require only the approval of the Greater Lockport Development Corp. board, Tucker said.

Also Thursday, the board renewed Waterbourne's contract for another year, through April 2012, at the same terms. Waterbourne is paid a 5 percent commission on the gross value of any Canal Street lease or sale if it acts alone. The commission rises to 7 percent if a subagent is involved.


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