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Minority-owned firm signs 1st lease for Northland Corridor space

A minority-owned company that specializes in home inspections, property maintenance and property management for lenders has signed the first lease for space in the new Northland Corridor business hub on Buffalo's East Side.

WNY Mortgage Field Services, owned by Harvey Washington, will occupy 9,200 square feet of the former Houdaille loading dock building at 167 Winchester Ave., which is owned by an affiliate of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp.

WNY Mortgage Field Services provides home inspections, property condition reports, residential renovations and repairs, property maintenance, property management and property preservation services. It's typically hired by lenders or mortgage servicers after a loan goes into default or foreclosure, and the lender seeks to ensure the property is secure.

BUDC will provide the space rent-free for the first two months and will then charge $500 per month for the next four months and $775 per month after that, according to a memo from BUDC President Peter M. Cammarata to the agency's board. The total rent for the one-year lease is $6,650.

This is the first example of a new tenant in the Northland light-industrial and business hub, created at the suggestion of the city as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative. The goal is to return vacant or underused properties to good use, bring private-sector jobs and investment to an impoverished part of the East Side, and reinvigorate the community around it with new opportunities.

The state provided $6.7 million to BUDC to acquire a dozen industrial sites in the Northland Avenue area, totaling 35 acres, with 700,000 square feet of existing facility space, as well as empty land. BUDC has hired several architectural, engineering and marketing firms to study the properties, determine whether and how to stabilize, reuse or demolish the buildings, and begin outreach to both the surrounding community and potential tenants that would occupy the space for commercial or industrial use.

The core of the project is a new $45 million WNY Workforce Training Center, to be constructed at 683 Northland, formerly home to Niagara Machine and Tool Co. The new center will teach new and critical job skills to participants, particularly from the nearby neighborhoods. The BUDC board, at its upcoming meeting next week, will be asked to approve a $478,200 work order for schematic designs from Watts Architecture & Engineering, as part of a previously approved $3 million design contract.

As part of the overall Northland project, BUDC, through LiRo Engineers Inc., applied earlier this month to the state for approval to participate in the Brownfield Cleanup Program. According to the application, plans call for reusing 683, 631 and 741 Northland, after stablization, select demolition and remediation, while 777 Northland is beyond repair and would be demolished. Other, largely vacant lots would be rehabbed and reused.


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