A $14.6 million project to build a warehouse and manufacturing building on the former Bethlehem Steel site is getting $2.8 million in tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.
Uniland Development Co. plans to build a 151,200-square-foot light industrial or storage facility at 8 Dona St., on a site along Route 5 in Lackawanna.
The project is moving ahead without Uniland having signed any tenants in advance as part of an effort to create more options for businesses that quickly need to find more space.
Local development officials have long said that the shortage of available industrial or warehouse space has been hindering growth across the region.
A report released earlier this year by Invest Buffalo Niagara, the regional economic development and marketing group, found that while Western New York is being considered more closely by firms looking to expand, it is at risk of losing out because of a lack of available space.
The report found that the Buffalo Niagara market lags behind Pittsburgh, Columbus and even Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., in both the supply and creation of industrial and logistics space.
"There have been a number of studies that have shown we have a dearth of available space," said John Cappellino, the IDA's president and CEO. "It's really important that we have facilities available to companies so we can accommodate them."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who has been pushing for the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel site for years, said he believes the so-called "spec" building will be a catalyst for growth within the sprawling former steel complex.
"This is going to further growth on the site," Poloncarz said. "We have seen success in doing spec buildings elsewhere in the region."
The building would include 90,720 square feet of warehouse space and 45,360 square feet for manufacturing, with another 15,120 square feet for offices.
Uniland officials expect to bring one or more tenants to the facility, which is designed to be easily divided into three spaces.
While it's impossible to say how many jobs the project will create without knowing what businesses will move in, Uniland estimates that the project will bring 41 jobs, with an average pay of $50,000 a year, to the site, assuming the facility is split evenly between manufacturing and warehouse operations.
Uniland officials hope to start construction by June 1 and finish a year later, by the end of May 2022.