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Developer seeks tax breaks for Cheektowaga warehouse expansion

Continued growth by a Chicago-based building materials supplier and distributor is prompting a local developer to propose a new warehouse facility in Cheektowaga to house the expanding operation.

Column Development, a 29-year-old real estate firm, is seeking to construct a new 45,000-square-foot facility on a vacant 5.77-acre parcel at 380 Dick Road, to be leased to L&W Supply Corp. The developer is asking the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to support the $3 million project with a package of sales, mortgage recording and property tax breaks.

L&W, whose website says it's the nation’s largest distributor of gypsum wallboard and building materials, is currently located in 26,000 square feet of leased space at 675 Duke Road, also in Cheektowaga, near Union Road and Walden Avenue. According to Column's application to the ECIDA, L&W mostly sells directly to contractors and delivers its products directly to work sites, with less than 5 percent of sales going directly to customers who personally visit its warehouse.

But the company, which also does business as Building Specialties, says it needs more room to meet its growing demand and increased business in Western New York, according to the ECIDA documents. And it's indicated that it could consolidate its local operations to another location – possibly in Niagara or Monroe counties – and still serve Western New York from outside Erie County if it must, according to Column's application.

L&W employs 30 currently, and expects to add eight jobs with the expansion, paying an average salary of $30,000. The company does about $30 million in business in Erie County, according to the application. The current location on Duke Road would be sold, with buyers already waiting, Column said.

Founded in 1989, Kenmore-based Column is equally owned by Roger Pasquarella, former Pano's Restaurant owner Pano Georgiadis and John Kanustu. The company buys, develops, builds and leases buildings to tenants such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Sherwin Williams Paint and Decor, Paul Wolf Insurance and JBM Mechanical.

The project costs include $650,000 for the purchase of the land, $1.9 million for construction, $385,000 for infrastructure work and $65,000 in professional services. Funding comes from $1.2 million in equity and $1.8 million in bank debt, according to the Column application to ECIDA.

Column is asking for $18,000 in mortgage tax breaks, $131,250 in sales tax breaks and a standard payment-in-lieu-of-taxes for the property component. A public hearing was held Tuesday, July 3. The project still requires municipal approval, including a zoning variance to allow outside storage at the new site.

If approved, construction would start in August and finish by year end, according to the ECIDA documents.

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