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Self-storage planned for manufacturing facility on Broadway

A longtime paper box and jigsaw puzzle manufacturing facility may soon be storing personal belongings, furniture, old records and other items for safekeeping.

Daniel Blanchard of Tonawanda wants to spend about $1 million to convert the Drescher Paper Box facility at 459 Broadway into a new independent self-storage facility, with more than 200 climate-controlled interior units on the building's three floors.

He also plans to open up part of the first floor in the center with a retail operation where customers could come to not only rent units, but also to purchase retail moving, packing and office supplies. Mailboxes would also be available for rent and use.

Blanchard already has the 46,193-square-foot brick-and-stone building under contract for purchase for an undisclosed price, through his 459 Broadway LLC, and is now seeking a special-use permit from the Common Council to allow the new purpose.

He received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals last week to allow self-storage on the ground floor, and said he has support from Common Council President Darius Pridgen, whose Ellicott District includes the Broadway site.

"He thinks this is a favorable use for the property, so he's given me his nod for support," Blanchard said.

Blanchard said he plans to put lighting in various places, while also painting the exterior. He's also planning to install key-code access to get into the building, but he hasn't decided if he will activate the system or just limit access to business hours.

"It pretty much looks like an industrial building," he told the Buffalo Planning Board, which recommended approval of the permit request.

Blanchard said he spoke with representatives of the Mortimer Spring Block Association to reassure them that he would not be renting or parking trucks on the site, and does not expect heavy traffic. He also said he would maintain a large expanse of lawn that comes with the facility.

For Drescher, the sale gives the company an opportunity to downsize and relocate.

Drescher, which was founded in 1867, makes jigsaw puzzles, game boards and setup boxes. Originally named Charles A. Drescher & Son's, the company was acquired in 1978 by J. Baird Langworthy and renamed. It added die-cut puzzles to its product line with the 1979 purchase of Tuco Puzzles, and then moved that production in 1989 to the Broadway site - which dates back to the company's founding.

The company - which is now owned and run by J. Baird's son, John - no longer needs as much space as it has, so it hired Pyramid Brokerage Co. brokers John Ticco III and Michael Demyan to seek out a buyer for the 1.19-acre property. The building, which has three loading docks and one overhead door, was listed for $899,000.

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