A Buffalo-based defense contractor that produces transparent ceramic products and a developer planning an adaptive reuse on Buffalo's West Side received over $370,000 in tax breaks Wednesday from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
The awards for Surmet Ceramics Corp. and Terzo Development brings to nine the number of projects that the ECIDA has helped finance since the start of the year. Three more are expected to come to the agency's board within the next month.
"We’re off to a very good start," said ECIDA Chairwoman Brenda McDuffie. "We ended the year on a high note, and the pandemic is not stopping activity in this community."
Surmet is an advanced materials manufacturer that uses a specialized technology to produce windows, domes, lenses and transparent armor for the U.S. Defense Department and major defense contractors.
The Burlington, Mass.-based company took over a facility at 699 Hertel Ave. that was producing a specialized powder and has invested $100 million in internal and government dollars to ramp up production since 2003.
It now plans to construct at 3,400-square-foot building expansion at its 130,000-square-foot facility at 743 Hertel, to house a cold isostatic press operation.
The company and its government customers are investing more than $13 million in new equipment to consolidate its forming and heat-treating capabilities in Buffalo. Surmet said it plans to produce "the largest transparent ceramic windows ever made" for new reconnaissance systems, using the largest ceramics processing equipment in North America and production-scale furnaces that will also help with its other products.
Surmet had ordered more than $10 million in equipment and said it was prepared to install it in its facility "when we encountered a number of issues which threaten to derail our Buffalo expansion." So it needs to build the new structure – which costs three times the original plan.
Surmet estimates the construction by Gilbane Building Co. will cost $2.5 million, and it was granted $65,625 in sales tax breaks on the purchases of construction materials, to help it stay in Buffalo instead of moving operations out of state.
The company, which employs 13 currently, projected it would add 18 employees, at an average salary of $55,000. Surmet hopes to start work in April and finish by December.
Terzo Development – a joint venture of Carl J. Montante III and John Ticco – was granted $304,000 in tax breaks for its project to convert a vacant one-time warehouse at 44 17th St. into 13 new apartments, called the Bush Lofts.
They plan to invest $3.05 million on renovations of the 15,000-square-foot building. The apartments will include one studio, three one-bedroom units, seven two-bedroom apartments and two three-bedroom units, ranging in size from 483 to 1,625 square feet.
Three will be offered at affordable rents for those earning 80% of the area median income over the seven-year term of the property tax break, while the rest will be market-rate, for up to $2,275 per month. That's a tripling of the affordable units from the prior plan for one such apartment.
Construction could begin by May 1 and finish by April 2022.
Covid-19 emergency grants
The ECIDA also approved 11 Covid-19 Disaster Emergency Grant applications, totaling $71,233, for purchases of personal protective equipment and equipment installations. Recipients include the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, The Oakk Room, Flax's Barber Shop, Flax's Gold Buyer, attorney Heidi I. Jones, Kiddy Skateland, Buffalo Limousine, Prime Care Transportation Inc., Print2Web, Tappo of Buffalo and Tappo Pizza.
That brings the total number of grant recipients to 82 under the program, which has given out $523,130 in all.