State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger joined Governor Eliot Spitzer and Daniel Gundersen, Upstate Chair of the Empire State Development Corporation, for the announcement of $3 million in Restore NY funding for redevelopment projects in the Twin Cities. The Spaulding project received the larger grant at $2.5 million for the continued demolition of the long-vacant industrial complex, and North Tonawanda’s Municipal Commercial Redevelopment Project received $500,203 for demolishing the City’s former incinerator and creating a new commercial corridor on Erie Avenue.
“The Restore New York Communities Initiative, which was created by the State Legislature in 2006, was specifically targeted for the demolition of properties – like Spaulding and the incinerator – to assist local communities with their economic redevelopment efforts,” Schimminger said. “Before Restore NY was put in place, there were no state programs to assist local communities with demolition projects. That’s why I fought to create this program in state budget negotiations as the Assembly chair of the joint budget conference committee that dealt with economic development issues.”
In regard to the Spaulding project, Schimminger noted that this state grant comes at an important juncture. “Although demolition on the Spaulding site came to a halt several months ago, state-funded environmental remediation efforts totaling $7.1 million have continued,” Schimminger noted. “Now, with the Restore NY money and the grant recently obtained by federal officials, the Spaulding project can once again move forward this spring.”
Schimminger’s office has been actively involved in the intergovernmental working group of state, county and city officials that has been developing and coordinating plans for the clean-up, demolition and redevelopment of the 47-acre Spaulding site. The assemblyman, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry, also was instrumental in having the Spaulding property included within the Town of Tonawanda’s state-designated Empire Zone, part of a program through which the state provides and covers the cost of significant tax and other incentives to businesses expanding or locating in any of the state’s 82 current development zones. “Empire Zone status gives the Spaulding site a huge leg up on other properties for future development, which will increase the city’s tax base and provide jobs for area residents. Before this prime commercial property can be redeveloped for its next use, however, it must be cleared and cleaned up,” explained Schimminger.
The clean-up of this property has been a lengthy process. With Spaulding’s bankruptcy, the state assumed the cost of remediating three acres of contaminated soils on the property at a cost of $3.5 million. In addition, another $3.6 million state grant is in place to investigate and remediate the basement and sub-basement areas, subsurface soils beneath the sprawling complex’s structures, and parking and rail areas.
In North Tonawanda, the City’s Municipal Commercial Redevelopment Project grant involves plans to demolish the City’s old incinerator building on Erie Avenue and create a viable commercial corridor in what has been a blighted area. One of the businesses scheduled to relocate to the Erie Avenue development corridor is Competition Transmission, which is relocating to facilitate the expansion of the historic Riviera Theatre in the City’s business district. The Riviera’s expansion project, which will allow the facility to host larger and longer-running productions, has already received a $500,000 grant through the Empire State Development Corporation and a $75,000 Assembly grant that Schimminger secured for the theatre through the Community Capital Assistance Program.
“New York State has made a strong commitment to the Twin Cities and their redevelopment efforts,” Schimminger said. “In addition to the $3 million in Restore New York grants announced today, $1 million was granted to the Remington Rand project last year. These awards will enable North Tonawanda to make significant progress in implementing its Strategic Plan for Downtown. In Tonawanda, the $2.5 million in Restore NY demolition monies and the $7.1 million in environmental remediation funding that has been secured for the Spaulding site will move this project closer to the ultimate goal of a clean, shovel-ready site all set for redevelopment.”