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Armstrong Pumps mulls $18 million expansion of North Tonawanda plant

Armstrong Pumps, which employs about 200 people at its North Tonawanda factory, is planning to buy adjacent city-owned land for a projected expansion of its plant.

City Attorney Luke A. Brown wrote in a memorandum to the Common Council last week that he learned during talks with Armstrong that the company is planning an $18 million expansion.

Robert Dietrich, Armstrong's chief financial officer, wouldn't confirm the value of the investment, but he did confirm that the company is planning one.

"It's correct that we are looking at modernizing our facility," Dietrich said in a telephone interview from the Toronto corporate headquarters of the parent company, Armstrong Fluid Technologies.

"This is still in the preliminary stages," Dietrich said.

The North Tonawanda plant is Armstrong's only U.S. facility. Since 1969, it has operated in an old plant on East Avenue that formerly housed Buffalo Bolt Co. and later Roblin Steel Co.

There has been talk of expanding Armstrong's plant into the Buffalo Bolt Industrial Park since 1992, but in large part because of environmental concerns – the expansion site is a former brownfield – no action has been taken.

"If we go ahead with that, it's a major investment," Dietrich said. "We're hoping we can find a way to go forward."

In June 2013, the city signed a contract to sell three vacant lots, totaling 8.31 acres, on the former Buffalo Bolt property on Oliver Street to Armstrong for $40,000, but the company has never closed the deal.

Brown's memo said the open-ended contract came "without a firm closing date or the ability for the city to terminate that contract without extensive litigation."

Tuesday, Brown will ask the Council to vote on amending the contract to give Armstrong until Feb. 15 to close the purchase. If the company doesn't do so, it would have to pay the city a $5,000 penalty, and the sale of the land would be canceled. Armstrong already has agreed to the amendments, though the company has not yet committed to the purchase.

The conversion of 23 acres of open land on the old Buffalo Bolt property into an industrial park was completed in 2011, following a $3.4 million brownfield cleanup.

Other companies, such as Taylor Devices and Aquasol, bought lots in the Buffalo Bolt Industrial Park, but Armstrong held off until 2013.

The contract amendments say Feb. 15 would be the deadline for Armstrong to close the purchase and to submit a zoning application for the expansion.

Dietrich said besides city approval of its plans, Armstrong's stockholders also would have to approve the expansion.

"We're a long-established member of that community, and we're very happy to be in North Tonawanda," Dietrich said.

The company produces high-tech pumps for use in building heating and cooling equipment.




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