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Collins Marine buys landlocked Grand Island Commerce Center property

A family-owned Tonawanda pleasure-boat retailer has acquired a 9.3-acre light-industrial property on Grand Island with two large warehouses, less than a year after a bank foreclosed on the property to collect on prior mortgage debt.

Collins Marine, through 4100 River Road Storage, paid $1.6 million to Northwest Bank of Warren, Pa., this week to purchase the Grand Island Commerce Center at 345 Lang Blvd., near Grand Island Boulevard. That will give it more space for its growing storage needs, as well as offering an investment opportunity.

The property consists of two single-story industrial warehouse buildings totaling 120,000 square feet, with 20-foot ceilings, loading docks and grade-level doors and parking. The facilities, which are equal in size, were constructed in 1989 for light industrial manufacturing and processing.

The site had been owned by IRF Properties since 2011. IRF had tried to sell it through Saperston Real Estate and again through an auction by Cash Realty & Auctions in May 2016. But those efforts failed, and Northwest foreclosed last June for $750,000.

Located at 4444 River Road in Tonawanda, Collins specializes in Chaparral and Robalo brands, and sells both new and used boats, as well as offering pontoon sales and rentals. It also sells boat parts, services boats for customers, offers a 250-slip marina in the summer next to the Grand Island bridges, and provides winter storage for customers' boats.

Founded in 1953 by the Collins family, the company was sold in 1982 to current owner Robert Copelin, who moved it a decade later from its original location on Niagara Street in Buffalo to the current location on River Road. But the 65-year-old company is now outgrowing that space, particularly for sales, storage and servicing, said Jena Copelin, operations manager and daughter of the owner.

"We've really just had really good growth and development over the last handful of years," she said. "We've been looking for a couple of years now to do some expansion plans."

The Lang Road buildings had been 90 percent occupied at one point, and still had four leases totaling 40,300 square feet at the time of the Cash auction, although one was month-to-month and two others have since expired. Copelin said there are still several small tenants, but three-fourths of the space remains open.

The property is landlocked, so there's no opportunity for additional boat slips. But Collins Marine plans to use some of the empty space for off-site storage of boats and other materials, with usage varying by season, Copelin said.

The rest of the space that Collins doesn't use will be available for leasing for light manufacturing, warehousing or offices.

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