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Town makes a deal to sell former Colecraft building

BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | December 20, 2012

LANCASTER- When the former Colecraft Building, located at 3949 Walden Ave., was purchased by the town in 2003 for $1.6 million, the plan was to one day house the Lancaster’s police headquarters and court facility in the building, but it never came to fruition.

Since then, the building has been used to house the detective bureau and store equipment for various entities. In spring of 2011, it was announced that the building was no longer a viable option for the town; therefore, a brand new building would be built at 525 Pavement Road.

The next step for the town became to sell the Colecraft building, an eight acre site, and Pyramid Brokerage was hired in August.

After nearly a decade, it was released last week that the town struck a deal to sell the building to a North Tonawanda Company, Erie Engineered Products, Inc. Finally allowing the building to be put back on the tax rolls as well as eliminating additional costs for upkeep and maintenance on the building, etc.

It wasn’t too long ago, the Office of the State Comptroller released an audit with the findings of “poor governance” on the purchase of the Colecraft building in Lancaster. The purchase of this warehouse cost taxpayer’s approximately $2.5 million and the Lancaster Central School District lost approximately $440,000 in property tax revenue since 2003.

“It is good for the taxpayers,” remarked Lancaster Supervisor Dino Fudoli. “To be honest with you, it is great for the taxpayers, because ultimately not only are we surrendering some debt that the town has, but we’re also putting it back on the tax rolls. It hasn’t been on the tax rolls since 2002. The more revenue we collect obviously from our businesses helps us keeps taxes lower for our residents.”

Fudoli said the building sold for a little more than $1.4 million and while technically it is sold, they will not be going to close until October 2013, but contracts have been signed and a deposit has been made.

Erie Engineered Products Inc., located at 908 Niagara Falls Boulevard, specializes in military and industrial shipping/storage cases and containers, including aluminum, steel, stainless steel, and plastic construction, as well as custom design, development, engineering, and manufacturing.

“There were a couple of parties interested at one point,” commented Fudoli. “We had a couple offers on the table. This was the best offer and we took the best offer.”

Fudoli continued to explain there are series of hurdles along the way that will tie this company to this deal. In order to give them this long of a closing period, every so many months they have to deposit more money and meet certain requirements.

“We geared it toward that so just in case they are less likely to walk away, even though it is a long closing period,” he said. “[Council Member] Mark Aquino was very instrumental in getting them to put more money down and having different stages along the way to kind of bind them to this deal.”

The long closing period is mainly due to the company’s lease not being up until 2014 and the company needs time to prepare for the move.

And for Lancaster, Fudoli said another built in benefit to the way the deal was structured is that they’re hoping the timing of this deal coincides with the new police and court facility being finished, which is set to be completed by next fall.

According to Fudoli during the Monday night board meeting, the last time he was updated with the progress of the building, they were about two weeks off schedule and there were no other problems.

Also, the town currently stores some equipment in the building, Fudoli said Highway Superintendent Daniel Amatura, General Crew Chief for Lancaster’s Parks and Recreation Department Terry McCracken, and himself will be discussing as to what the town needs are.

There is some equipment stored in the building, which doesn’t belong to the town. The Village of Lancaster and the Lancaster School system has items stored in the building, which they will eventually have to find a new place for.

The town may look to buy some property and put up a structure that just meets their needs, commented Fudoli.

“If you look at the [Colecraft] building it is 75,000 square feet, I don’t think we are using 10,000 square feet, including the 6,000 square feet of office space the police are currently in,” said Fudoli. “We don’t need 50 or 60,000 square feet. We might be able to get by with 10 to 15,000 square feet, a pole barn type structure that covers up our equipment for the winter or whatever.”

The next Town of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Jan. 7, in the town hall, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster.

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