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Olean again seeking developer for former bank building

OLEAN – For the second time since the former Manufacturer’s Hanover Bank building has been held by the city Urban Renewal Agency, a search for developers is under way. In late June, the previous developers, Kinley Corp., of Allegany, withdrew from the project.

The Many Hanny building, as many in the Olean area have come to call the property, also includes three other buildings, according to Mary George, coordinator for the city’s community development program. The property was acquired by the URA in 2010 to “facilitate and advance redevelopment of the most prominent site in downtown Olean and to provide a unique opportunity for redevelopment,” according to the agency.

Kinley Corp. secured the development spot to create retail space in the first floor, the former banking area. The upper floors would have been student and upscale apartments.

George said problems arose while the developers and the URA tried to secure historic designation and assistance from the State Historic Preservation Office. The designation would have allowed use of historic tax credits, but also created more hurdles for developers.

Mayor Linda Witte said a couple of developers have been in town to take a look at the property, saying one of them expressed high interest in the buildings.

In looking for developers, the URA looks for fair market value in the building, George said.

“The former developers had made an offer to make the URA whole with their purchase,” she said. To make the agency whole would have been to pay them what they had initially paid to take ownership of the building. In this case, it would have been around $400,000, she said.

Since Kinley has stepped aside, the URA has done some work to secure the elevator in the seven-story bank building for safety reasons. In the past, asbestos studies have been completed and basic maintenance has been done on the properties, to include the former Siegel’s Shoe Store at 107 N. Union St., and properties at 110 W. State St. and 116 W. State St.

In potential development, some of the buildings, other than the former bank at 101 N. Union St., could be demolished.