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Last year's 43North winner SparkCharge leases space at Northland Central

The winner of last year's 43North business competition will be the newest tenant at the Northland Central advanced manufacturing hub.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which owns and manages the Northland Corridor area on Buffalo's East Side, approved a new three-year lease with SparkCharge Inc., a startup clean-technology company from Syracuse that won the $1 million grand prize in the state-sponsored competition.

SparkCharge – which was required under the 43North rules to relocate to Buffalo for a year – is staying beyond its mandated commitment. The company will take up 6,159 square feet of space in the middle of the sprawling complex at 683 Northland Ave., sandwiched between the new Western New York Workforce Training Center, Buffalo Manufacturing Works and other occupants.

The company will use the space to make and assemble electrical vehicle charging equipment, such as the hand-held chargers used by AAA, said BUDC President Peter Cammarata.

The agency had originally sought a five-year term with the new firm, but agreed to less because of the company's growth potential.

"This is another big event for us, as far as the Northland Corridor is concerned," Cammarata said. "They may grow out of our space. We don't know if they will have other opportunities in our other buildings."

Terms call for rent of $3,100 per month, with SparkCharge paying its share of utilities, taxes and maintenance. BUDC also agreed to authorize Gilbane Building Co. to spend another $172,735 on mechanicals and HVAC, electrical work, and painting to improve the space for SparkCharge.

BUDC also approved an exchange of land with the city, in which four vacant properties BUDC owns at 664, 688, 690 and 698 Northland would be traded for nine city-owned vacant properties at 1669, 1675, 1679 and 1681 Fillmore Ave., 572 and 574 Northland and 162, 164 and 168 Winchester Ave.

The city parcels are zoned for commercial, while the BUDC properties are zoned residential, but had been claimed long ago by Niagara Machine & Tool Co.

The city land is valued at $100,000, but will require environmental cleanup to get them ready for reuse as part of a gateway to the Northland Corridor area. The BUDC land is worth $90,000. The Common Council has approved the exchange.

"We have our parking lots, and we didn’t want to create more parking lots that infiltrated the neighborhood," Cammarata said. "We wanted to have the potential for homes to be built."

BUDC also approved:

  • $956,442.15 retroactively to Gilbane, for significant additional work already performed to finish the 50,000-square-foot space for Buffalo Manufacturing Works, which formally unveiled its space on Tuesday. That included structural reinforcement, particularly for two shed buildings, as well as gas and electric metering, weather protection and other improvements.
  • $46,235.68 in back overtime pay for Gilbane contractors for completing the electrical-lab expansion space for the Workforce Training Center in time for the start of classes in August.
  • $52,951.13 for additional equipment for the small electrical training labs at the training center.

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