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Box-maker next-door wants to buy brownfield site on Crowley

The city agency responsible for cleaning up, managing and redeveloping brownfield properties has barely owned the a century-old former manufacturing property in Riverside for a few weeks, and the property's neighbor already is interested in buying a significant piece of the 7-acre site.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corp. bought the former sewing machine and television manufacturing plant at 308 Crowley Ave., paying $50,000 in June to take on the abandoned site.

The property includes both vacant land and about 300,000 square feet of existing but deteriorating buildings that can't be reused. Officials planned to demolish most of the brick buildings that still remain – except for a historic clock tower – before remediating and clearing the site for future use, said BUDC President Peter Cammarata.

The idea was for BUDC to hold and manage the property until it could find a new user, much as it previously did with the former Trico Products Corp. building in downtown Buffalo, the Riverbend property that is now occupied by the Tesla plant, and the Northland area that is now being converted into a light-industrial economic development hub, anchored by the Workforce Training Center.

But the first new user is already on the scene – from next door.

The property is located northeast of the intersection of Ontario and Tonawanda streets, about a quarter-mile from the Buffalo Free Trade Complex and adjacent to railroad tracks. It's also next door to Enterprise Folding Box, a successful manufacturer of specialty boxes for pizza, wings, and other products that are shipped across the Northeast.

City agency takes on cleanup, redevelopment of Riverside property

Part of Enterprise's facility at 75 Isabelle St. shares a wall with a 35,000-square-foot cinderblock building on the BUDC property. That building, which was constructed later, is surrounded by the turn-of-the-century brick structures that are destined to come down, but it will remain.

And Enterprise wants to buy it, along with a one-acre piece of vacant land directly adjacent to the box-maker's property, Cammarata said. That's where a fire years ago destroyed another building that has long since been demolished, so the site is already cleared, he added.

"That is the first transaction I would do," Cammarata said. "I would sell it as is."

First, though, Cammarata said BUDC wants to clear various liens and judgments that the agency inherited when it acquired the property. The agency also needs to complete the demolition around the cinderblock building without damaging it.

"We need to untangle the web first," he said. "It's a what-if transaction."

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