By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
— A long-ailing area along the Oliver Street corridor, once renowned as North Tonawanda’s commercial hub and home of the former Buffalo Bolt works, is nearing a new lease on life.
The Buffalo Bolt Business Park has already received millions in federal and state assistance to remediate a site that once served as a manufacturing base for steel and bolt companies, then sat vacant for decades.
But about 12 years ago, after about 40 years of sitting idle, the groundwork was laid out to once again move the property toward vitality.
Douglas Taylor, CEO of Taylor Devices, which has maintained huge growth through the creation and sale of its earthquake-related products based on Tonawanda Island, purchased three lots in the business park last year and invested $2.7 million in resuscitating them.
The property will soon supplement some of Taylor’s manufacturing currently taking place at a Village of Kenmore locale.
“We’ll have the first of three buildings ready at the end of September,” Taylor said.
Mayor Rob Ortt said a second North Tonawanda company, Aquasol Corporation, will purchase two parcels, and that a third local business is expressing strong interest in the remaining space at the business park.
“Two North Tonawanda businesses are expanding and we have already closed on five of eight lots,” Ortt said. “I’m very confident the remaining three lots will not be here long.”
And on Monday, officials say the final piece of the economic puzzle for that 23-acre parcel is in place.
With politicians and interested parties gathering near the largely vacant stretch of land, National Grid representatives formally tendered a $190,000 grant to the Lumber City Development Corporation that will be used for redeveloping portions of the property.
For 40 years the property has sat vacant, but will again be occupied by light industry and manufacturing in an era where much of Western New York has struggled to maintain the once vibrant sector of its economic base.
Dennis Elsenbeck, an executive with National Grid, said his company occasionally awards funding to communities that show promise.
“We do so in collaboration with key business leaders, key political leaders,” Elsenbeck said. “You can’t do it if you don’t have the partnership, but there has to be a good, sound strategy.”
Ortt lauded the public-private partnership and said the venture will help spur jobs and new investment in the business-centric development.
In August, the common council approved the use of a $140,597 state grant for electrical work at the business park site which is to be performed by National Grid.
The utility company sent a letter to the council indicating it would require four to six weeks to complete the project, leaving the likelihood that the the entire site will be ready for business by the end of the year.
“They’re going to be working on it in a matter of weeks,” Ortt said. “It makes the property even more marketable.”
Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.