Rick and Dana Bress initially just wanted to buy a strip of land behind the Gardenville Commerce Center in West Seneca so they could expand their adjacent used car dealership.
Instead, they wound up buying the whole property, but with grander business plans for part of the two-story office complex.
The Bresses paid $1.8 million this week to purchase the 3.3-acre parcel at 40 Gardenville Parkway, buying it from longtime former owner James Kirchmeyer.
The 60,000-square-foot building is 60 percent occupied with large and stable tenants, and the couple still plans to use part of the land for their own business.
But now Dana Bress plans to convert some vacant space in the multi-tenant office building into a shared-workspace facility for new startup companies, similar to what's offered through WeWork and other such concepts in major cities nationwide.
"There's not anything in West Seneca like that now, and the building is perfect for it," she said. "There's a big shell space that has never been developed that I'm looking to develop... Not only do I think it would be great for us, but great for the area."
The couple owns Galaxy Auto Place Inc., located at 2338 Union Road, just around the corner from the office building. The company, which calls itself the largest independent dealership in the region, has operated there for 20 years, but has been growing and needed more space for reconditioning used cars. It's been leasing a building next door, but that's no longer enough.
The dealership and Gardenville properties abut in the rear, and the Bresses sought to buy a piece of the office land so it could expand and construct a new facility for its needs. But Kirchmeyer wasn't interested in a partial sale of the site, which was marketed for $2.1 million.
As they continued discussions, though, Dana Bress realized the potential to create something more. There's a need, she said, for state-of-the-art shared workspace that can help new firms start off with lower overhead costs before they transition to more traditional offices as their business takes off. That's where the Gardenville building fits in.
Constructed in 1985, the building was occupied by Kirchmeyer & Associates Inc., a real estate appraisal firm that was later acquired, absorbed and moved. Its former owner leased space to other companies.
It's currently occupied by Consumer Credit Counseling Services, foster agency GA Services and information technology firm Hover Networks. There's also a few small office suites that are ready and available for lease on the first floor, Bress said.
But about 18,000 square feet on the second floor has been left as empty. "It's literally shell space. There's nothing there," she said. "I think it's a terrific building. It's a large building. It's wonderful to see all the activity there."
Bress said she didn't know how much the project would ultimately cost.
She also noted that the site has easy access to both the Aurora Expressway and the Thruway, and it's across the street from Benderson Development Co.'s Garden Village Plaza.
"We've been invested for a long time in West Seneca with Galaxy," she said. "It just all worked out at the right time."