Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, Uniland CEO Michael J. Montante, and local community leaders celebrated groundbreaking for Uniland’s new 150,000-square-foot distribution and advanced manufacturing facility at 8 Dona Street. The future building will be the first of its kind at the new Renaissance Commerce Park [RCP], located along Route 5 on the former Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna.
The County Executive made the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site a priority when he took office in 2012, and he began to assemble funds for acquisition and remediation of 140 acres along Route 5. Once all but abandoned and overgrown, Renaissance Commerce Park and its adjacent parcels are now home to two large operating manufacturers, a future sugar warehouse distribution business, and Uniland’s new “spec” building.
“Today’s groundbreaking is the culmination of a long process and another sign of the increased interest in the Renaissance Commerce Park from companies recognizing that this is a great place to be and to grow their business,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “Millions of dollars have been invested in the ongoing redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel site to transform what was once an unused, rusting eyesore into a modern business park with accessibility, a terrific location and multiple modes of available transportation for businesses to ship their products. I thank Uniland for their decision to add to this momentum with the new spec building, which is sure to generate even more interest and bring more investment to Renaissance Commerce Park.”
New York State has supported the acquisition of the former Bethlehem Steel site with $12.78 million from Buffalo Billion 2 and the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. In addition, ESD encouraged the expansion of operations of Renaissance Commerce Park tenants TMP Technologies and Sucro Sourcing through its Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits, a performance-based incentive.
The Erie County Industrial Development Agency [ECIDA], through its land-development arm, the Industrial Development Land Corporation [ILDC], has served as redevelopment manager of the 150-acre area on the site now known as Renaissance Commerce Park. ILDC President and CEO John Cappellino says the success of the development efforts to date are the direct result of fruitful collaboration among the many stakeholders.
“Renaissance Commerce Park is an example of an extraordinary public-private collaboration,” said Cappellino. “The extraordinary teamwork among all these agencies resulted in tens of millions of dollars in direct private investment. Empire State Development and Erie County, job creators with vision like TMP Technologies and Uniland Development, oversight provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation, grants from National Grid and National Fuel, support from Lackawanna and former owner Tecumseh Steel all contributed to where we are today,” Cappellino said.
“The 8 Dona Street project addresses one of our region’s biggest business challenges, which is a lack of Class A industrial space for companies that want to grow their operations here in the Buffalo region,” said Uniland CEO Michael J. Montante. “Our investment in the area is a reflection of the work done by New York State, the City of Lackawanna, the ECIDA, ILDC and specifically the vision of Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to prepare Renaissance Commerce Park to realize its next chapter of growth. Western New York has a great industrial heritage and a bright future.”
Uniland’s building will be neighbor to cleaning products manufacturer TMP Technologies. In 2019, TMP purchased 28 acres of remediated acreage for a new 290,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. Construction is now complete, and the facility is operational.
Commercial “spec space” is at a premium in Western New York, which can inhibit business growth and encourage new job creators to bypass the region in favor of other states, taking the jobs with them. Manufacturers and warehouse distribution facilities are critical to the nation’s supply chain, and by offering already-constructed sites, Erie County can remain economically competitive. Uniland representatives say the growing Commerce Park site was the right choice for a new-construction spec building. The 150,000 sq. ft. building is expected to be finished in early summer 2022.
Erie County and the ILDC are working on an additional 80 acre-purchase to extend Renaissance Commerce Park to the South. The new parcels will allow an extension of the Shoreline Trail Bike Path and enlarge the Park to 240 acres.