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Chandler Street building to house Thin Man Brewery expansion, startups

Developer Rocco Termini plans to build a second business incubator and brewery in an emerging North Buffalo neighborhood on Chandler Street.

Termini is seeking city approval to convert a four-story former livery building at 166 Chandler St. into a commercial facility to house startup businesses and a second operation for Buffalo's Thin Man Brewery.

That's similar to what he's already working on for the former Linde Air Manufacturing plant at 155 Chandler. But now he's shuffling those plans around, putting the full brewing operation into the new building, while shifting a planned tasting room and six-lane bowling alley back to the old building. Thin Man already has a brewery and restaurant on 492 Elmwood Ave.

"Our vision of Chandler Street is a cool street for incubator companies," Termini wrote in a letter to the Planning Board, which will consider the $5 million proposal at its meeting Monday.

Termini told the board he will be coming back for approval of other projects in the neighborhood "in the not-so-distant future."

He did not elaborate, but said he already has many of the other nearby properties under contract to be acquired.

"At some point, we're going to do that whole street," Termini said.

The two new projects are part of what Termini has dubbed the Pierce-Arrow Neighborhood because of the dominance of the historic Pierce-Arrow administration and manufacturing complex nearby. It adds to the developer’s prior successes with converting the former FWS Furniture Warehouse building into the Foundry Lofts and Suites, the Houk Wire Manufacturing Building into the Houk Lofts and the former American Radiator Company headquarters into the Arco Lofts.

Plans by Rochester architect Peter M. Roetzer for 166 Chandler St. call for renovating the existing 43,200-square-foot masonry building, while constructing an 8,990-square-foot pre-engineered steel addition. Work would include repairs to the exterior brick and concrete frame. The project is expected to qualify for state brownfield tax credits and state and federal historic tax credits.

The proposed brewery equipment would be housed in the one-story steel addition, while a canning plant, coolers, storage and warehouse space would occupy the first floor of the main building. The top three floors would be available for commercial rental.

As with the Linde site, Termini plans to seek approval of the building for tax-free Start-Up NY benefits through a partnership with a local college or university.

No residential space is planned, and no tenants are finalized.

Built in 1930, the boarded-up building dates back to the 1896 formation of the Barcalo and Boll Manufacturing Co., whose products eventually included BarcaLounger recliners, as well as metal furniture, mattresses and box springs, according to the website Preservation Ready Sites Buffalo. When it needed better bedrails, it began making them in-house, added hand tools to its product line and then bought tool maker Charles E. Hall Co. The company added car parts and airplane plates after it was hired by Curtiss-Wright during World War I, according to the website.

The firm later merged with furniture maker Chandler Industries in 1947, and the combined company was acquired in January 1965 by Mohasco Industries, which relocated the manufacturing operations to North Carolina. The building's been vacant for well over a decade.

Termini acquired it for $250,000 in February 2016. Meanwhile, he announced plans for the $8 million Linde project across the street to convert a century-old manufacturing and processing facility into an 80,000-square-foot complex with office space for software developers and a winery. The city Planning Board already approved that project, dubbed the Chandler Incubator.

Tenants will include ENrG, Utilant and Blackbird Cidery, as well as two apartments. Thin Man was originally supposed to occupy space there as well for a brewery bottling and canning facility, but the beer business, which is owned by Suzanne Shatzel and Termini's wife, Bridget Termini, grew so much that "there's not enough room there," Termini said.

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