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Proposed light-industrial site found to be contaminant-free

Environmental testing of properties at a proposed light-industrial manufacturing hub on the East Side has turned up minimal if any pollution or other contaminants that would complicate state and city efforts to transform the site into a job-creation and economic development engine.

Reports submitted to the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which acquired and now oversees the properties in the Northland Avenue Belt Line Corridor area, found “nothing of concern,” said James Richert, senior project manager at GZA GeoEnvironmental.

The environmental firm drilled 29 “bore” holes in the soil, collected samples from 19 of them and also tested some water brought up from one hole. Officials tested for PCBs, herbicides, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, arsenic, lead, mercury and other metals, but did not report anything unexpected.

“It’s not unusual to find arsenic around urban soils,” Richert said.

A separate soil-gas survey on another major property at 537 East Delavan Ave. is ongoing, with more than 100 probes drilled and inserted into the ground underneath building foundations to collect information about the gas in the soil. The probes will sit in the ground for two weeks, followed by 30 days of analysis. That property also has monitoring wells on site, and officials are seeking to have it included in the Superfund cleanup program.

Meanwhile, BUDC officials are asking consultants LiRo Engineers to finish up their analysis, evaluation and planning review of all the properties, in conjunction with brokerage firm CBRE, to determine how to market them.

“We basically asked them to step it up now that we do have possession of all the properties,” said BUDC Vice President David Stebbins.

BUDC bought up a dozen properties on Northland, East Delavan and Dutton Street, acquiring 58 acres and 700,000 square feet of aging manufacturing buildings as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiatives. The state allocated $6.7 million to BUDC to pay for the purchases, as well as the environmental and market studies on the properties, and officials hope eventually to lure light manufacturing companies to bring jobs and investments to the East Side area.

The agency also is starting community outreach efforts, and has solicited proposals from real estate firms to manage the properties on behalf of BUDC.

“We know at least three to four good firms have expressed some interest, so I’m optimistic we’ll get good responses,” Stebbins said.