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Lockport IDA takes title to GM’s vacant land

LOCKPORT – The Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency took title Thursday to 91 acres of land it seized from General Motors in an eminent domain action aimed at increasing the size of the town’s industrial park.

The IDA will pay GM $546,000 for the property, which was the value set by an appraiser the agency hired. However, IDA attorney Daniel E. Seaman said negotiations are continuing and there might be an additional payment to GM later.

GM had offered to give the IDA 120 acres of land for free if the town agency would accept perpetual restrictions on its use, primarily connected to environmental issues. The town didn’t want the additional 29 acres because of its own environmental concerns about the extra property, which GM previously acknowledged had been used as a sludge storage area.

IDA Executive Director David R. Kinyon said there have been no talks he’s aware of about acquiring that extra land. GM spokeswoman Mary Ann Brown said the company “is reviewing its options on both of these issues. No final decisions have yet been made.”

State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso signed the order transferring the 91 acres Thursday in Niagara Falls.

Kinyon said the agency already has been approached by one potential buyer for some of the GM land, which borders the industrial park and extends south to a CSX railroad track. Only 30 acres are left for purchase in the original 200-acre industrial park off Junction Road.

“We’re prepared to market the property aggressively,” Kinyon said.

Part of the property in question was the location of GM Component Holdings’ Lockport plant, formerly known as Delphi Thermal Systems and before that as Harrison Radiator Division. However, GM had never developed it.

Under terms of Caruso’s order, GM and Lockport Energy Associates, which operates a natural gas-burning cogeneration power plant adjacent to the GM property, will be allowed to continue to maintain a driveway from Junction Road to the GM facility and the power plant. That driveway runs through the land the IDA is taking over, and eventually will be dedicated as a town road, Seaman said.

GM also will have easements allowing it to maintain street lighting for the driveway as well as signs at the Junction Road entrance.

However, the town IDA will not face any GM-imposed restrictions on its future use of the property. GM’s demand is why the IDA’s efforts to buy the property broke down and led to the eminent domain action, which was upheld

If GM had not accepted the $546,000, it would have been up to Caruso to set the acquisition price.

The judge’s order says the IDA must pay the $546,000 by July 9, and GM has the right to file a court action to seek additional payment, but that right expires June 25, 2018.

Kinyon said the IDA has the cash on hand, thanks to its sales of land in the industrial park in recent years to Yahoo, Praxair, Bison Bag Co. and other clients.