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Benderson Development seeks tax breaks for Cheektowaga warehouse project

Benderson Development Co. wants to put up a new industrial warehouse in Cheektowaga – its second such project in that part of town – to fill a void for such space in the region, but it wants tax breaks to help get the job done.

The Buffalo developer is proposing to construct a 100,035-square-foot warehouse at 135 Buell Ave., but without any specific tenant in mind. It’s seeking $227,500 in sales tax breaks and $538,000 in property tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, which will consider the $5.38 million project on Wednesday. It has already been approved by the town.

The “spec” building is designed to create “first-class, clean and productive office, warehouse and distribution space at moderate rental costs ideally suited to startup and expansion-minded businesses,” according to documents from the ECIDA. It “mirrors” a similar project that ECIDA approved in April 2015, involving two spec buildings totaling 100,000 square feet that were constructed in the nearby Broadway Development Park.

The documents note that industrial space in the area is now at a premium, because there’s been little construction of new industrial facilities since the 2008 recession, while growing demand has largely taken up the existing supply. As a result, the vacancy rate for industrial space dropped to less than 4 percent as of the start of the year, brokerage CBRE-Buffalo reported in January.

The new building is aimed to meet that need by ensuring that potential new manufacturing tenants don’t have to wait for space to be built, Benderson said. “We’re prepared to make this commitment because of the success and ever-increasing demand that we have seen with other facilities of this type and nature, particularly in the centrally located area of Cheektowaga,” Benderson Vice President Eric Recoon said at a public hearing in late April.

But Benderson officials say the project’s success still relies on getting ECIDA assistance to cover the costs and help keep lease rates down, especially since it could be constructing and carrying the facility prior to having it filled. The site, which had previously been considered for a hotel more than 15 years ago, is now zoned for light manufacturing.

Potential employment is uncertain and could vary significantly, since it’s still unclear who will occupy the building. But Benderson has committed to creating at least 35 new jobs at the 8.6-acre site, with an average annual salary of at least $30,000, or $1.05 million in total annual payroll. The project also is projected to generate $147,000 of revenues to the town, Erie County and Cheektowaga’s Maryvale School District.

If approved, the developer wants to start work in June and complete it by September 2018, although the first occupants might be able to move in as soon as September 2017.