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Ontario Specialty plans more demolition at ex-American Axle plant

More demolition and redevelopment is planned for the former American Axle & Manufacturing plant on Buffalo's East Side, as the current owner of the sprawling site wants to take down another small structure that's in its way.

Jon Williams' Ontario Specialty Contracting is seeking Preservation Board approval to tear down a former one-story warehouse addition to the onetime manufacturing plant at 1001 East Delavan Ave. That's part of a larger new project involving entry and exit from the property, according to a letter to Hawley from Alen Trpevski, senior project manager at Ontario Specialty.

Built in the 1960s, the 8,000-square-foot blue corrugated-metal mechanical building was used to house air handling equipment both on the roof and inside the building for other parts of the complex that were already demolished.

Now, however, it's no longer needed, said Phil Pantano, spokesman for Williams and Ontario Specialty.

"It served its purpose when that was a manufacturing facility, but it serves no purpose now," Pantano said. "It's almost a barrier to further redevelopment of the eastern end of the property."

American Axle closed the plant in 2007, laying off 650 workers. Ontario Specialty bought the 70-acre former manufacturing property in October 2008 for $1.23 million, with plans to redevelop it for future industrial or commercial use. The company spent two years cleaning it up and clearing structures that could not be reused, and split out a small 2.65-acre parcel a year ago for a Superfund cleanup.

It eventually attracted two tenants, galvanized steel products maker Galvstar, a startup that eventually closed, and Niagara Lubricant, a 95-year-old company that later purchased its building from Ontario Specialty. The rest of the property is now home to 10 other tenants, including Ontario Specialty's Manufacturing & Equipment Services and Viridi Parente Inc., another company owned by Williams that makes electric battery-powered heavy construction equipment through subsidiaries Green Machine Equipment Inc. and Volta Energy Products Inc.

Pantano said the new effort along the eastern end will build on that past success, noting that Ontario Specialty recently completed the redevelopment of the portion of the complex along East Delavan, where American Axle's plant administrative offices were located. Catholic Charities Workforce and Education Services last month moved into part of that space.

The Preservation Board meets at 3 p.m. Thursday.

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