Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

September 11, 2013

Hearing to be held on Yahoo plan

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

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A public hearing will be held next week on the site plan for Yahoo’s expansion in the Town of Lockport.

The hearing is slated for 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the town hall on Dysinger Road. Planning board members won’t be able to vote on the site plan until it is approved by the Niagara County Planning Board, which meets Monday.

Paul Bonaro, data center facilities director for Yahoo, told the board Tuesday afternoon the second Yahoo project will be built in two parts. Both will adjoin the current Yahoo data center complex at the corner of IDA Park Drive and Junction Road in the town industrial park.

Part one will include a computer “pod” building and half of the central core operations building. Construction is expected to start in December – assuming the project is approved by town and county planning boards – and is expected to take about 12 months, Bonaro said. A general contractor is expected to be chosen by Yahoo by the end of the month.

Although twice the size, the new pod would be like the current buildings on the Yahoo site, complete with the company’s “chicken coop” design cooling system. The coop will use the cool outdoor air to cool the servers in an energy efficient way.

The central core operations building will house the 24-hour customer care call center. Part two of the expansion will include the second half of the operations building and a second computer pod, to be constructed at a future date, Bonaro said.

Construction on the first phase of the project will include all the utilities and emergency generators needed for both halves, he added. The total size of both projects is to be 245,000 square feet, with 165,000 square feet for the first part. All three buildings will be in the north east corner of the Yahoo property.

Bonaro said both parts combined would be able to accommodate 300 employees, although there is no plan for Yahoo to add more than the promised amount of 115 jobs. Still that didn’t stop local officials from thinking about the possibilities.

“That’s 300 young people who are educated here who can stay here or work here,” said state Sen. George D. Maziarz, who attended the Planning Board meeting.

Yahoo’s interest in expanding in Lockport is noteworthy, Maziarz said, especially while so many other areas in the country are seeing job losses and reductions.

”People talk all the time about attracting Fortune 500 companies, about attracting high-tech types of jobs for young people,” Maziarz said. “Yahoo is that type of company. It’s certainly a brand name, it’s certainly high-tech... They love Lockport for a number of different reasons.”

In April, the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors approved a 20-year package of property tax and sales tax breaks for the company. The deal would cover both parts of the expansion.

Yahoo will have a 20-year sales tax abatement for building materials and equipment, as well as 100 percent abatement of property tax for 10 years. The property tax exemption would then be reduced by 20 percent every two years for the next eight. It’s estimated the deal will save Yahoo over $30 million total.

The company is also receiving $2 million worth of state tax credits and a seven-year renewable deal with the New York Power Authority for half-price hydropower. In March, the New York Power Authority Board of Directors approved an allocation of 7,200 kilowatts of low-cost power.

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