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$6.9 million warehouse to replace former Office Depot on Elmwood Avenue

A Michigan-based wholesale food distributor is getting $394,000 in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to convert the former Office Depot store on Elmwood Avenue into a warehouse.

Alt Store, which is owned by Gordon Food Service in Wyoming, Mich., plans to convert the 30,000-square-foot store into a $6.9 million warehouse that will supply small- and medium-sized food service operators. The company also plans to increase the size of the facility by a third with the construction of a 10,000-square-foot addition.

Don Cummings, Gordon’s tax manager, told IDA officials that the company picked Buffalo for the warehouse because it considers it to be a “prime market” for small and midsize restaurant customers. The area also is similar in size and scope to its other operations in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The company, which is the largest family-owned food distribution company in North America, is expected to employ 19 full-time and 27 part-time workers at the new warehouse, located at 1959 Elmwood Ave. The company had considered sites in Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., he said.

• The IDA also approved $149,300 in tax breaks for a $3 million expansion by Triad Recycling in the Town of Tonawanda.

Triad, which opened a center in 2011 on River Road that recycles roofing shingles into material that can be used in asphalt roads, has acquired two abandoned buildings on 15 acres of land next to its current facility that will become the site for a 4,000-square-foot processing center, as well as a wind turbine.

Triad’s business has grown as the company has expanded its recycling operations to include 29 different materials, ranging from wood and metal to cardboard and vinyl siding and glass.

The company, which now has 15 employees, expects to create three new jobs, paying an average of $25,000 a year, through the expansion.

“They are one of the most environmentally friendly companies in our community,” said Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joseph Emminger, an IDA board member.

• The agency also approved the sale of its 25 percent stake in Gemcor, a fast-growing West Seneca company that makes automated fastening systems for aircraft manufacturers.

The IDA’s approval includes a provision that sets aside $1 million from the agency’s proceeds from the sale for a fund that will pay Gemcor’s new owners, Ascent Aerospace, if it meets job and wage retention targets over the next 10 years.

Even with $1 million going into the fund, the sale will yield a big payoff for the IDA, turning a $500,000 investment that it made in Gemcor in 2004 into a $9.25 million profit. Ascent acquired Gemcor earlier this month in a $44 million deal.

Under the incentive agreement, the IDA will put $1 million of its proceeds into an escrow account, with a target that California-based Ascent will keep at least 72 jobs in Buffalo Niagara. That’s about 80 percent of its current workforce of around 90 people – the same standard that the IDA uses to determine clawback incentives for companies that receive incentives but fail to meet their job or investment targets.

Ascent will not receive any payments from the escrow fund during the first five years, even if the company meets its job retention targets. But after the fifth year, it will be eligible to receive a $500,000 payment if it kept at least 72 jobs in the region during the previous five years.

After that, the company will be eligible to receive annual payments of $100,000 from the fund during each of the next five years, provided it met the job retention target, IDA officials said.

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said the job retention agreement will help protect the company’s local jobs under its new ownership.

“We’ve all seen over time what has happened when an out-of-state entity comes in and buys a local concern,” Poloncarz said. “Very soon thereafter, there often is no longer a local concern.”