Agreement reached to create new Gateway Centerby jmaloni
An agreement reached this week begins a process of turning a longtime Island eyesore into a gateway.
Jim Metz of JSJ Holdings, the Empire State Development and the town have agreed on plans to redevelop the Metz Building, formerly occupied at various points by corporate giants Dunlop and Occidental. The building, highly visible from the I-190, now sits vacant, without windows and dotted with graffiti.
Councilman Gary Roesch said a project manager's initial timeline calls for completion of a project by the end of the year that would return the building to one suitable for offices again. In September of 2009, the town obtained a $1 million grant from the state that kick-started the project, announced at the time by then-Gov. David Paterson at a press conference in Niagara Falls. Roesch said the agreement with Empire State Development calls for Metz to begin renovations that will present the building in a "marketable condition," at which point the town will submit invoices to Empire State Development and will receive the $1 million to then turn over to Metz. Supervisor Peter McMahon said the entire renovation project is estimated at $2.6 million.
"There's not a nickel of town money in it," McMahon said. "(Metz) does the first $1.6 million out of his pocket, and then as he goes beyond that he can submit for reimbursement."
The project, called The Gateway Center, would restore the building to its former condition when "it was an asset to Grand Island," McMahon said. "It wasn't an eyesore like it is now and a public nuisance."
Council members lauded Roesch's leadership on the matter during Monday's monthly meeting when the agreement was announced. Roesch said the Town Board has actively been trying to reinvigorate the property for the last seven years. He credited Metz for seeking to rebuild rather than demolish the structure.