BUDC to assist remediation plan at East Side site

January 29, 2014 Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 3:38 PM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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BUDC to assist remediation plan at East Side site

January 29, 2014 Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 3:38 PM EDT

A plan to redevelop an East Side industrial site has the backing of the Buffalo Urban Development Corp.

BUDC directors unanimously approved Tuesday to invest $2,190 in a preliminary environmental review of a 10.5-acre site at 537 E. Delavan Ave. The property once housed operations for Vibratech Inc. and, before that, Houdaille Industries. It is owned by Medina-based Salvage Properties Trust, which uses a portion of the complex for its auto salvaging business.

Geo-Environmental of Buffalo was the low-bidder from 13 bids submitted to BUDC earlier this month. BUDC directors awarded the contract to the firm.

If the property review passes a series of tests and due diligence investigations, it may be acquired by the city of Buffalo, or more specifically, Buffalo Urban Development Corp. which will oversee a remediation and transformation into an industrial or office park. The development template will follow the same one BUDC used when it turned the Union Ship Canal into the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park and the neighboring RiverBend Park.

"We do need to build up our inventory of available brownfield development sites," said Peter Cammarata, BUDC president.

The key will be finding out about the properties industrial past. Given its history, the property has a heavy industrial background meaning cleanup efforts may be time consuming and pricey.

"It is a good idea to find out what kind of (environmental) problems may be there," said Craig Slater, a Buffalo attorney and BUDC director.

The upside is that bringing the property back to life could have a deep, positive impact not only on its immediate East Side neighborhood, but the entire city, said Brendan Mehaffy, Buffalo's economic development pointman and head of the Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning.

"If we can bring this site back, the benefits go well beyond just the community," Mehaffy said. "It spreads to the region."

The GZA report is due back later this spring. Further BUDC action will be determined by GZA's report.

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