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City of Lockport eyes renovation of former Tuscarora Club

LOCKPORT – The city intends to renovate the vacant former Tuscarora Club on Walnut Street in hopes of attracting business or residential tenants.

Greater Lockport Development Corp., the city development agency, adopted a 2016 budget Thursday that includes $100,000 for a makeover of the building, which is more than 100 years old and was last used as the Tuscarora Inn restaurant. The agency foreclosed on the property in December 2014 after a loan went unpaid.

On Thursday, the agency awarded a $13,750 contract to Smart Design Architecture, of Batavia, to do a feasibility study on redeveloping the three-story building.

“Our preference, obviously, is to sell this building, but we’re willing to develop this,” said Brian M. Smith, city planning and development director. “We’re looking to bring the first floor back to kitchen and event status, and to see if a boutique hotel makes sense for the second and third floors.”

Subdividing the third floor into apartments also is a possibility, Smith said, adding that he wants to see more people living downtown. “A big thing this year is the creation of market-rate apartments in downtown Lockport,” he told the agency board. Smith said that he would like to see the private sector do it but that the agency might have to take the lead.

The city has a couple of recent consultants’ reports indicating that Lockport could support downtown apartments and a downtown hotel or two.

The agency budget also earmarks $100,000 for further redevelopment at Harrison Place, the former auto parts plant at Walnut and Washburn streets that is a business facility, with Trek Inc. as primary tenant.

There’s plenty of room left, Smith said, but it’s not subdivided into spaces suitable for tenants, so more walls and dividers have to be installed. More than 200 people now work in the 461,000-square-foot, four-building complex.

The budget also includes $10,000 for a city advertising and marketing effort. “We need to spend a little more trying to capitalize on the assets we have,” Smith said.

The agency board also decided to advertise for a part-time grants administrator, which would be a new post, and a new bookkeeper, since the latter position is expected to be open soon. The salary of the grants post is budgeted at $30,000, but Smith said it probably won’t be that much.

Smith said the agency would not be able to afford any of these initiatives if it hadn’t sold 57 Canal St. to Iskalo Development Corp., of Williamsville, in May for $375,000.