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Praxair revealed as buyer of site in Lockport industrial park

LOCKPORT – Praxair paid the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency $216,000 this week for 10.8 acres of land in the town industrial park, although IDA officials said Friday they aren’t certain about the industrial gas company’s plans for the property.

The IDA board approved the sale of the land in October, but at the time would not disclose the purchaser. Friday, IDA attorney Daniel E. Seaman and Executive Director David R. Kinyon said it was Praxair, which operates a major plant in the Town of Tonawanda, employing about 1,300 people.

When the deal was voted upon last fall, the IDA said the purchaser was intending to open a data center. Thursday, during an event marking the opening of Yahoo’s second data center and new call center in the industrial park, IDA Chairman Thomas A. Sy said an announcement about a data center for a Western New York company in the industrial park would be coming soon.

But Friday, Kinyon said, “Praxair has not detailed what the plans are for the land.”

Requests for comment from Praxair’s corporate headquarters were not acknowledged Friday.

Seaman said he expected to deed for the sale to be filed Friday in the Niagara County Clerk’s Office, but that didn’t happen. However, Kinyon said the IDA received Praxair’s money this week.

At the time of the sale’s approval by the IDA board, the buyer was given six months to complete an environmental assessment of the site at the western edge of the industrial park, at Junction Road and Enterprise Drive, not far from the Yahoo complex.

Kinyon said the IDA has about 30 acres left to sell in the original industrial park, but it is planning to add 91 acres of vacant land owned by General Motors. Thursday, the IDA filed papers in State Supreme Court, asking a judge to award the IDA the GM parcel for a payment of $546,000.

That’s the appraised value the IDA obtained after previous court rulings allowed the agency to take GM’s property through the power of eminent domain. However, the IDA was required to pay GM fair market value.

The automaker’s only response so far to the town’s offer was to announce publicly two weeks ago that it would give the IDA 120 acres for free if the agency would agree to restrictions on its future use,

That’s the bargaining position that IDA officials have said triggered the eminent domain proceeding in the first place.

Kinyon said the sides met earlier this week to discuss “technical issues,” which he said included GM’s concern for maintenance of the access road to the GM Components plant, lighting along that road, and a sign at the entrance.

Kinyon said environmental matters weren’t discussed, even though GM’s desire to protect itself from future legal action over whatever might be found on the property was one of the key restrictions it sought in the transaction.

GM spokeswoman Mary Ann Brown said she was unable to comment on the latest developments Friday.

Seaman said the Praxair deal and the shrinking space available for sale “show the need to acquire more property to continue our mission.”