BlackRock Inc. selects Amherst for $80M data center

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First

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BlackRock Inc. selects Amherst for $80M data center

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM EDT

BlackRock Inc., the world's largest asset management firm, has selected an Amherst site for the home of a nearly $80 million data and back-office center.

Key to the project moving forward is an incentive package crafted by the Amherst Industrial Development Agency as well as an allocation of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority and grants from the Empire State Development Corp.

BlackRock has selected a vacant parcel in Uniland Development Co.'s CrossPoint Business Park for the 31,000-square-foot building and the firm has agreed to hire at least 25 new workers, each earning an average annual salary of approximately $68,000.

At $79.8 million, the project is one of the largest private sector-driven developments in Amherst's recent history, dwarfed only by Mensch Capital Partners proposed $238 million residential-based makeover of the Westwood Country Club property. It would also be one of the largest projects every handled by the Amherst IDA.

Amherst was selected the New York-based BlackRock over several other Upstate sites as well as locations outside of New York including those in Pennsylvania and Canada.

"We are thrilled to be working with BlackRock," said Paul Pfeiffer, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise vice president of investor relations and public relations. "BlackRock is a huge name in the financial industry. This should put us over the top in a lot of ways."

BlackRock was recruited to the area through pitches made by the BNE.

The Amherst IDA directors are expected to review and then vote on the incentive package when they meet of July 18.

"The IDA incentives will seal the deal," Pfeiffer said.

Besides the hard development costs, the project's hefty bottom line is driving by the state-of-the-art technology BlackRock needs for the data center.

CrossPoint, which is already home to other financial institutions as Bank of America, CitiGroup and Geico, was selected because of its advanced fiber optic technology, the low-cost hydropower and the strong, reliable power grid.

The company is seeking a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes package, primarily to cover the cost of the building's advanced technology. BlackRock has agreed to pay a graduated property tax rate during that period and pay full taxes by the 11th year.

Amherst IDA benefits could, potentially, save BlackRock $6.8 million in sales taxes, another $2.15 million in property taxes and $164,919 in mortgage recording taxes.

Amherst, Erie County and the Williamsville School District will collectively see a net revenue gain of new tax dollars during the PILOT period of $956,666.

Founded in 1988, BlackRock is a Fortune 100 company - ranking 86th. The company reports assets of more than $4.32 trillion through its global investment and risk management services with more than 11,000 employees globally.

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