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Buffalo Manufacturing Works to begin $33.5 million build-out at Northland

It's on to Phase Two of the state's sprawling Northland Corridor project.

With work nearly complete on the new Northland Workforce Training Center, the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. has approved a new $33.46 million construction contract to prepare the rest of the complex for housing Buffalo Manufacturing Works' expanded operation.

The quasi-city agency backed the new agreement with Gilbane Building Co. to act as construction manager for the second half of the project at 683 Northland Ave.

That contract calls for a cost-plus-fee payment, with a guaranteed maximum price, and includes "early bid" work that was already approved. It covers construction expenses and subcontractors, overhead, a contingency amount for unexpected issues, and Gilbane's $5.15 million fee, which is lower than the normal 4 to 6 percent of the overall cost.

Any costs in excess of the maximum will be absorbed by Gilbane, while there's also room for sharing any profits with BUDC if the final costs come in lower than anticipated.

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As part of the project, Gilbane will also handle the purchase and installation of furniture, equipment and technology and oversee the move of Buffalo Manufacturing Works from its current home on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"They’ve got somewhat of a complicated move," said Terence E. LoConte, Gilbane project executive. The move involves large, sophisticated equipment that will be transported in stages. But LoConte added that the firm had recently completed a similar move for a company in Connecticut — including an identical three-story-tall 3D printer.

BMW currently occupies about 25,000 square feet, and will be doubling its space, while also gaining much higher ceilings to accommodate some of its equipment.

"They needed more space. They were growing," said BUDC Vice President David Stebbins.

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The total project, which is expected to cost $43.2 million when other expenses outside of Gilbane's construction contract are included, will be funded with a $25 million state grant from Empire State Development Corp., plus $6.8 million in historic tax credits and a $9.04 million bridge loan from KeyBank that will eventually be replaced by $7.57 million in brownfield tax credits.

BUDC, which acquired 35 acres and more than 700,000 square feet of existing buildings on the East Side, is overseeing the transformation of the Northland Corridor area into a new advanced-manufacturing business hub, with the help of more than $100 million in government funding — half from the state. It's part of a joint city-state venture to bring more jobs and investment to long-impoverished neighborhoods of the city.

The overall hub will be anchored by the Workforce Training Center and Buffalo Manufacturing Works, which will share the 239,314-square-foot former Niagara Machine & Tool Works building, along with a revived Gigi's restaurant that will open Oct. 1, plus some other businesses.

The first phase of the project featured the buildout of 110,000 square feet for the training center in the front half of the building and the first two floors of the office complex. That $58.1 million facility, which is slated to open next month, is designed to train 300 to 350 low-income city residents per year in a variety of advanced manufacturing skills. BUDC received a certificate of occupancy this week, and the first staff will move in by Aug. 30.

But the rest of the facility – totaling 121,346 square feet – will be taken up by Buffalo Manufacturing Works and other tenants. The manufacturing works will occupy a 55,000-square-foot applied research and development center, while another 56,061 square feet is reserved for private-sector, light-industrial tenants, expected to employ up to 284 people. The remaining 14,285 square feet is for common tenant facilities, such as loading docks and mechanical rooms.

Other work is underway at 537 East Delavan Ave. and 612 Northland Ave., where asbestos cleanup and non-hazardous demolition are finished, masonry work is mostly done, roofing has restarted, and electrical, plumbing and HVAC work will begin. Plans are still in development for Project Rainfall's food and wellness enterprise at 541 East Delavan.

BUDC also:

  • Approved an extra $86,064.75 in brownfield cleanup expenses at 683 Northland for LiRo Group, an engineering firm, mostly to cover third-party costs for lab analysis, sampling and equipment. "We realized there is much more contamination on the site than we anticipated when we first started the project," Stebbins said.
  • Agreed to accept a $50,000 grant from the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national nonprofit organization focused on housing issues and now economic development, to help BUDC prepare a strategy to recruit new businesses to Northland. "The businesses that will come to us will not likely come ... from traditional brokers," Stebbins said. "We're looking for small entrepreneurs who are in the community already. We need someone knocking on doors to find people who might be interested."
  • Authorized spending $45,050 for public art at Northland that will be designed and installed by the WNY-Urban Arts Collective, through the Buffalo Arts Commission. The display, which would use foundry molds left over from another business, Clearing Niagara, will be set up on a corner site at the intersection of Northland and Fillmore avenues.

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