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Roar Logistics seeks office building in Larkinville

Transportation firm Roar Logistics would be the main tenant for a proposed new two-story office building on the edge of Larkinville – if the developers win city approvals and the company gets enough tax breaks from Erie County to move forward with its plan to create 14 new jobs.

Christopher Jacobs of Avalon Development and Alan Dewart of Seneca Development & Management Corp. are proposing to construct a 12,020-square-foot office building at 535 Exchange St., designed to house a logistics firm.

The project would also include a 67-space asphalt parking lot on the polygon-shaped parcel, which is already owned by Jacobs, the former Erie County clerk who is now a state senator from Buffalo.

Located next to the CSX railroad tracks at the intersection with Hamburg Street, the vacant 0.92-acre site was part of a rail yard that ran along Exchange. Jacobs purchased the land from the city, which in turn had acquired it earlier from Conrail. Jacobs and Dewart disclosed their plans for the site last month when they sought a zoning change from the Common Council, but they didn't disclose the identity of their client until now.

According to an application to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, Roar is seeking $87,500 in sales tax breaks and additional property tax breaks for the project.

Roar is a third-party transportation provider, offering truckload, intermodal rail and international freight-forwarding services. Besides its headquarters here, the company also has offices in Georgia, Illinois, California and Texas. The company, a subsidiary of Rich Products Corp., is led by Robert E. Rich III, and the name is an abbreviation for "rail, ocean, air and road."

The company currently is based in a commercial space inside the Adams Mark Hotel on Church Street in downtown Buffalo, but has outgrown its space. According to the IDA application, company officials want to stay in the city, but need free or low-cost parking. The Exchange Street site is "one of the few sites that meets Roar's needs," it said.

However, the firm said, it needs the tax breaks to keep its occupancy costs competitive with other possible locations elsewhere. "Roar Logistics is able to conduct its operations most anywhere within the U.S.," the company said in the application.

The company would bring at least 45 people at the new facility, who would provide distribution support services for transportation clients, such as Domino Foods, Exxon-Mobil Corp., PepsiCo, Sahlen Packing, Rich Products, Archer Daniels Midland, Serta, Welch's and Ocean Spray. The company also pledged to add 14 new jobs within two years, paying average salaries of $42,000.

Even if it receives approval, the company has not yet made a final decision to go with the site. "They really like the place, but they won't really know anything until all the meetings have been had and he sits down and reviews everything," said Roar spokesman Mike Billoni, referring to Rich.

A public hearing on the tax incentives will be held at 9 a.m. on May 21 at the ECIDA's 95 Perry St. office.

Jacobs, Seneca Development eye logistics company for Exchange Street site

The project still also needs approval by the city Planning Board. According to schematics submitted to the city with the application, the building would be largely rectangular in shape, with a curved bump-out at the western end and a triangular protrusion on the northeastern corner. The facade would feature weatherized steel and masonry, and plans include a rooftop deck above part of the first floor.

The $2.31 million project is being designed by Carmina Wood Morris PC, and Lamparelli Construction would complete the work over 12 months. Upon completion, Roar would purchase the facility from the developers.

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