Gracious Living to Locate New Plant on Buffalo's Waterfront, Create 250 Jobs

September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 6:33 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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September 26, 2013 Updated Sep 26, 2013 at 6:33 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (release) - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Board of Commissioners met and approved the sale of its remaining land and property holdings on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor to Gracious Living Corporation. A leading manufacturer and distributor of outdoor furniture and housewares based in Canada, Gracious Living will locate its first U.S. plant on the waterfront property, invest tens of millions of dollars in injection molding equipment and infrastructure, and create 250 new jobs in Western New York.

“Gracious Living Corporation will breathe new life into two abandoned waterfront structures and facilitate private sector investment and job growth in Western New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are pleased to welcome the company to build their first U.S. plant to serve its growing U.S. market, as we continue to foster redevelopment on Buffalo’s waterfront and revive New York’s manufacturing industry. Just three weeks ago, we announced a new plan to dramatically transform Buffalo’s waterfront to pave the way for new investments and business opportunities, and today’s sale by the NFTA is another step forward in our goal to build a world-class waterfront for the community.”

“The U.S. market is an important part of our growth plans and having a U.S. based facility demonstrates our commitment to serving and growing our U.S. customer base. We have found the state and local governments very helpful and supportive in building the case for locating our first U.S. plant in Buffalo which we appreciate and look forward to working with them going forward,” said Gracious Living President Enzo Macri.

“The sale of this property is a very sound strategic decision that follows Governor Cuomo’s visionary plan for Buffalo’s waterfront,” said NFTA Chairman Howard A. Zemsky. “It provides the NFTA with a global solution for exiting its waterfront property; at the same time helping to create job growth in the region and generate much needed revenue for the NFTA.”

Gracious Living Corporation, of Toronto, Canada, will receive $2 million in performance-based Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits from the State in return for the company’s job creation commitments resulting from its investment.

Port Terminal buildings A and B on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor have much deferred maintenance, and the NFTA has been anxious to put these two buildings to use as a job-creating project and pass on the cost of maintaining them. Gracious Living is proposing to pay cash for these buildings to set up a plastic injection molding plant and warehouse at the site.

The approximately 49.5 acres of real property located at 901 Fuhrmann Boulevard in Buffalo will now be sold at a negotiated price of $4.7 million. Upon execution of the Disposition Agreement, Gracious Living will have a 120-day due diligence period to conduct environmental testing and other investigations.

The Niagara Frontier Port Authority purchased the property from the Ford Motor Company in 1962, and then the NFTA took it over from the Port Authority when it was formed in 1967. Over the years, the buildings have been used by Tops Markets, Euro United, Sonwil Distribution, Nano Dynamics and Empire Liquidators, but most recently have been unoccupied. The buildings have been mothballed since December 31, 2010.

The project aligns with the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council’s strategy of smart growth by utilizing an aging, existing building and also promotes advanced manufacturing. The NFTA’s Board of Commissioners has previously determined that ownership, operation and development of the waterfront property are not consistent with the NFTA’s transportation mission. The action taken at the NFTA’s monthly meeting today signals a continued commitment on the part of the commissioners to transition out of the property development business so it can fully focus on growing its public transportation sector.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, “Proving that manufacturing is still alive and well in Western New York, the long-vacant former port buildings on Buffalo’s outer harbor will soon be home to a furniture manufacturer and more than 100 new jobs. Gracious Living will be utilizing the buildings, the location and our skilled local workforce to help revitalize the outer harbor. This Canadian company, which chose Buffalo as its first United States manufacturing location, is an exciting piece of the puzzle for bringing the property along Fuhrmann Boulevard back to life.”

NFTA Commissioner and Chairman of the Property Risk Management Committee Peter G. Demakos said, “I am very pleased that our determination has paid off and we are now in a position to help rejuvenate these two waterfront structures via a private sector capital investment that will stimulate meaningful employment in the region.”

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise has been working with Gracious Living since November 2012, assisting the company with site selection, workforce, access to incentives and international due diligence.

Buffalo Niagara Enterprise President & CEO Thomas Kucharski said, “Gracious Living’s significant investment and job creation commitment is one more impressive announcement in a string of great advanced manufacturing projects coming to our region over the last 36 months. This project reinforces what a great economic driver our waterfront can be, especially when combined with the rest of our great manufacturing assets. We were very pleased to assist Gracious Living over the last 10 months, and I am delighted to welcome Enzo Macri and his team to Buffalo Niagara.”

Senator Mark Grisanti said, “Buffalo continues to see a surge in economic activity and Gracious Living’s decision to locate at the port terminal buildings builds on that. I’m pleased that this respected Canadian company chose Buffalo’s waterfront to expand its business, which will create jobs for the people of Western New York.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, “Gracious Living’s decision to expand in Buffalo amplifies Governor Cuomo’s message that Western New York’s waterfront is a valuable asset and we must work to foster its redevelopment. This manufacturer is bringing good paying jobs to our region, and demonstrating to companies across the country that Buffalo is a great place to do business.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “Erie County’s reputation as a location for Canadian-based businesses to set up U.S. operations continues to grow with the news that Gracious Living will be establishing operations on the waterfront and bringing with them 250 new jobs. This is the type of economic development project I have been advocating for and that will grow our economy. I thank Gracious Living for their commitment to our area and I look forward to them being strong economic partners for many years to come.”

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his continued focus and leadership when it comes to Buffalo's waterfront development. Today is just the latest example of the Governor bringing new jobs and private investment to our city and Western New York. Buffalo's transformation continues from its neighborhoods to the waterfront.”