Lockport Area: Lockport uses master plan to grow beyond boundaries

October 25, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 8:46 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First


Lockport Area: Lockport uses master plan to grow beyond boundaries

October 25, 2013 Updated Oct 25, 2013 at 8:46 AM EDT

The recent series of development projects in Lockport and other eastern Niagara County communities doesn't surprise CEOs such as Ken Franasiak.

Franasiak, the founder of Calamar, invested heavily in Niagara County projects and has a good handle on the economic development pulse of the community.

"Lockport has always been a strong community," he said. "The thing about these hamlet communities like Lockport is they do a very good job of looking after themselves."

That's especially true in recent years.

Both the City and Town of Lockport saw major projects take hold that have changed the commercial real estate landscape.

Perhaps the largest is yet another expansion by Yahoo. After building a 275,000-square-foot data center in the Town of Lockport, the IT giant is working on plans for an expansion that will add 242,000 square feet to the campus. Construction will start this winter.

"They've literally doubled-down on their initial investment," said Chuck Bell, president of Greater Lockport Development Corp.

Lockport won the initial Yahoo data center decision three years ago, thanks to a handsome financial package and a collaborative courtship that included the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise and Sen. Charles Schumer.

It was a huge regional win, given Yahoo's international cachet.

But the company is just one of several significant economic development wins in Lockport, Sanborn and other eastern Niagara County communities. Others include:

• Diversified Manufacturing Inc. is adding 47,000 square feet to its Lockport plant. The company expects to add up to 60 workers once the $5 million project is complete.

• Trek Inc. initially moved its technical support and R&D staff into Lockport's Harrison Square complex, bringing them from Medina. Now the company has shifted corporate headquarters. In the process, Trek went from 46,000 square feet in Harrison Square to plans to occupy as much as 90,000 square feet.

"Personally, I think we are just approaching that tipping point," Bell said. "All of this is the byproduct of a lot of incremental, small steps we needed to take first."

Earlier this summer, Buffalo developer Nick Sinatra bought David Ulrich's City Center complex for $3.5 million. Lockport's Old City Hall on Pine Street is home to the just-opened Flight of Five Winery. Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream opened a location overlooking the Erie Barge Canal.

And with a funding push from the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, the oft-talked-about Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Complex on the site of an empty Market Street supermarket is about to start construction.

"What helped us is that we set up a very deliberate approach to economic development and we didn't panic," Bell said. "We stuck to the plan and it is paying off."

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