Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

February 15, 2014

Wave of business activity in town

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — There’s a lot of business activity expected in the Town of Lockport over the next few months. And it’s not just Yahoo and Walmart making the moves.

Yahoo is planning an expansion of its data center complex at the corner of IDA Park Drive and Junction Road in the town industrial park.

Announced last fall, the expansion was a 150,000 square-foot, $170 million project that included a customer care call center and two computer “pod” buildings.

That expansion was increased by 20,000 square feet Tuesday, when town Planning Board members approved the site plan change.

Yahoo’s new plan also increases parking to 430 spaces, up from 240, and adds 12,000 square feet to the call center. Town Building Inspector Brian Belson said Yahoo expanded its second floor of the call center.

Work started in December on the first half of the expansion, which is half of the call center and one of the pods, and should finish before the end of the year.

The new buildings will be in the northeast corner of the Yahoo property. About 100 people are employed in the original five-pod facility Yahoo opened in 2010.

Another 115 jobs are promised with the expansion. Yahoo also received an 18-year property tax reduction and a 20-year sales tax exemption on building materials and computer equipment at the new center.

David Kinyon, the town’s economic development director, shared the Yahoo news with the town Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors on Thursday.

And the town expects more changes are in store for the Yahoo center, Kinyon told board members.

About three weeks ago, Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith visited Yahoo’s temporary call center on Sheridan Drive in Amherst. The Internet giant seemed pleased with the local workforce. It may have led to Yahoo increasing their Lockport presence, Smith said.

”They’re so thrilled with the quality of the employees,” he said.

Construction of the coming Walmart Supercenter is progressing, as work is expected to be completed by Aug. 15, town officials said.

But after the construction comes the interior work. That should take a few weeks, meaning the supercenter is expected to open in the fall.

”Construction is progressing and is on schedule. And we anticipate the store to open in the early fall,” said Walmart spokesperson Amanda Henneberg in an email. “We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with convenient and affordable shopping options close to where they live and work.”

The 185,209 square-foot supercenter will replace the current Walmart, located less than half a mile south of the former Lockport Mall site on South Transit Road.

The DiMarco Group, a Rochester-based firm, is the general contractor of the project.

Some of the new businesses on the way include:

• TJ Maxx, a national department store chain, will be moving into the former Sears Hardware store in the Tops Plaza on South Transit Road.

Smith said TJ Maxx should be open by April. Sears closed the hardware store in November.

• White Rabbit, a local frozen yogurt chain, will be moving next to Game Stop in the Home Depot Plaza on South Transit Road. It’s expected White Rabbit will move in sometime before April 1, Kinyon said.

The company has locations in Buffalo, Tonawanda and Niagara Falls.

• Steak, Stone & Sushi will be moving in next to Save A Lot and Dollar Tree on South Transit Road, according to Smith. The restaurant owns a Japanese seafood and steakhouse on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo.

• The planning board approved a revised special use permit for a self-storage facility in Wrights Corners that’s expanding, Belson said.

Belson said Gerald Tomaino plans a 10,000-square-foot expansion of Wrights Corners Self Storage, 4040 Lake Ave. The business currently stands at 14,400 square feet.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.