Via the Buffalo News
By Jonathan D. Epstein
Company purchases properties in Kenmore, downtown
Carl and William Paladino’s Ellicott Development Co. continued its recent buying spree this past week with a pair of large real estate purchases, but the developer is also now starting to formulate plans for all the properties it has accumulated.
In the past week, Ellicott Development paid nearly $1.7 million for a downtown industrial property and a Kenmore social services facility, without having completely firm plans for either one.
The developer – the largest private landlord in the city – paid $725,000 to buy the former Heritage Center building at 1 Delaware Road in Kenmore, at the corner of Delaware Avenue, from the New York State Association for Retarded Children. The three-story building on 1.5 acres is largely vacant now, except for a day care center.
William Paladino said plans call for converting the 40,000-square-foot facility into a mixed-use building, with both residential and retail elements. Ellicott would try to keep the day care as a tenant, but turn the rest into residential apartments, while possibly adding on to the building for some retail space.
“It’s a real nice piece of property,” he said.
In the second deal, the Paladinos paid $950,000 to buy the former Nicholson & Hall boiler building at 41 Columbia St. from Nicholson Group. Nicholson was an 85-year-old full-service plant contractor that provided a range of construction services for power generation, chemical processing, steel production and marine transportation companies in North America. It employed about 300 at one point recently but went out of business quietly.
“They’ve been out for a long time,” Paladino said. “They pretty much dissolved themselves.”
The 25,000-square-foot vacant industrial warehouse sits in the Cobblestone District, across the street from the new Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino and not far from Canalside and First Niagara Center.
That puts it in a prime location for future development, as the downtown area has experienced a massive surge of construction activity with the Sabres’ HarborCenter, Benderson Development Co.’s One Canalside and the replica canals.
Paladino said the developer will “probably just use it for a warehouse for the time being, and then see how the area keeps developing and come up with some concepts and ideas.”
He said Nicholson “put a lot of money into the office space, so it’s pretty much ready to go for an office tenant,” with 8,000 square feet of space. The rest is a high-bay warehouse.
“We think we got it for a good price, so we’re comfortable where we are,” he said. “It’s right on a major corner of two arterials and across from the casino.”
The purchases are typical for the Paladinos, who over the years have acquired many buildings around the city because of their location, size or potential, believing they would eventually prove valuable.
In the meantime, they would bank them for later until there was enough demand to warrant additional investments.
Since the start of the year, for example, the Paladinos have acquired at least 10 properties, paying about $10 million in all.
Those deals have included the Holy Angels Academy building; the William S. Hein Co. headquarters buildings and properties on Main, Ellicott and Northampton streets downtown; a 58-acre mixed-use development parcel in Orchard Park, with a 25,000-square-foot retail strip plaza on 21 acres and another 37 acres zoned for residential development in back; a former gas station and service center on Delaware Avenue; the Cantalician Center on Eggert Road in Amherst; a truck terminal in Buffalo; a strip center in Buffalo; and some additional parcels in Orchard Park and Newfane.
“We’re just trying to formulate all our development plans for all the things we’ve bought in the last six, eight months,” said William Paladino, Carl’s son and now the CEO of the firm.
Some, like the Hein buildings in Buffalo or a pharmacy building in Newfane, are already destined for other uses. Some of the vacant land in Orchard Park is now being converted into a new Southtowns central medical office for Buffalo Medical Group, with construction in “full swing” and a target of late spring for completion.
Additionally, the developer is finishing up work on its new 105-room Staybridge Suites hotel on Sweet Home Road in Amherst, near the University at Buffalo’s North Campus and part of a larger mixed-use project led by Bevilacqua Development LP.
Paladino said there’s “nothing happening” yet with a reuse for the massive Holy Angels building, saying it may take another four to six months to determine a plan. In the meantime, the developer may let several local schools use the gym.