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Ontario Specialty to split old American Axle property for redevelopment

The owner of the former American Axle plant on East Delavan Avenue in Buffalo received approval Monday to separate the property into two parts, parceling out a small piece of it that is undergoing environmental cleanup while preparing the rest for redevelopment.

Ontario Specialty Contracting Inc. obtained the green light from the Buffalo Planning Board  to subdivide a 2.65-acre parcel from the larger site of more than 70 acres at 1001 East Delavan. The smaller parcel is at the corner of East Delavan and Cornwall avenues.

No development is planned as yet, but the smaller piece is under state Department of Environmental Conservation-supervised remediation to remove contamination from years of operations by the autoparts maker and predecessor General Motors Corp. GM is paying for the cleanup under a Superfund agreement with DEC.

But as long as it's a single large property under Superfund, the rest of the land is stuck in limbo, officials said. That's because it needs to be remediated under the state's separate Brownfield Cleanup Program - with its related tax credits - but it's not toxic enough for cleanup under Superfund.

Separating it will free up the developer to clean the rest and seek users for it, said attorney Marc A. Romanowski of Hopkins Sorgi & Romanowski, who represents Ontario Specialty. The developer will deed the smaller piece to the state while granting the government access through the rest of the property for the cleanup.

"It allows us to go forward with the rest of the cleanup and redevelopment," Romanowski said.

American Axle closed the plant in 2007, laying off 650 workers. Ontario Specialty, through East Delavan Property LLC, bought it in October 2008 for $1.23 million, with plans to redevelop it for future industrial or commercial use.




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