When a fire devastated an East Side building in 2011, the former food storage, distribution and manufacturing facility became a brownfield – property that sat idle for years due to environmental concerns.
But the site, 132 Dingens Street, is getting some help from National Grid through a $300,000 redevelopment grant. Utility spokesman Steve Brady told WBFO there are numerous benefits when brownfields are revitalized.
“Redeveloping existing brownfields is certainly better for the environment,” Brady said. “It makes adaptive reuse of existing structures, and it allows us to make full use of our existing facilities without having to build new facilities, which is, again, often such an expensive proposition.”
The company that owns the property, which is called 132 Dingens Street, LLC, plans on converting the 13-acre site into a light manufacturing or warehouse facility, possibly as part of an industrial park. The project price tag could approach $7.8 million. The site can accommodate up to 250-thousand square feet of new construction.
Brady noted that charting a new future for brownfields can pose unique problems.
“Businesses looking to redevelop existing facilities are often faced with the challenge of having to deal with, frankly, the byproduct of whatever was in that facility prior,” Brady said. “Those costs can be prohibitive and they can be a real impediment to economic development.”
The grant to the Dingens Street project is part of National Grid’s Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program. The grants help to finance utility-related infrastructure upgrades, demolition and other costs associated with redeveloping sites.
Brady said Buffalo has a stockpile of structures teeming with adaptive reuse possibilities.
“If you think of the City of Buffalo as the core of the region, it keeps the city core vital,” he said. “That’s why National Grid is so eager to support these kinds of projects, because you know the old cliché is that a rising tide floats all ships. If the core of the City of Buffalo and the city itself is rising, it helps the rest of the area.”