Unspecified 150-acre site eyed for development
While the Chautauqua County Legislature has agreed to fund another $2 million to develop shovel-ready sites, one official says they may have found a property, but its location is still under wraps.
Mark Geise, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency Director and deputy county executive for economic development, told IDA board members there has been a lot of discussion on shovel-ready sites. “We’re actively pursuing a 150-acre site right now,” he said.
But Geise did not say where this potential site is located. “I’m not at a point yet where I want to spill the beans, but I wanted to share with the board that we’re working very hard. It takes a lot of work, a lot of money and a lot of time,” he said.
SHOVEL-READY SITES EXPLAINED
In a follow-up conversation with The Post-Journal/OBSERVER, Geise explained that shovel-ready sites are a hot commodity nationwide.
“Time for a developer means money. Developers that are looking for sites to build want sites that are as close to being ready to build on as possible – that means having control of the site, having infrastructure at the site, having Environmental Quality Review undertaken, geological technological analysis undertaken,” he said.
A good shovel-ready site, Geise explained, has already been searched for historical artifacts, and has water, sewer, and electric lines ready. “It’s having sites that are in the right location with the appropriate infrastructure that are zoned correctly, that are as close to being ready to build on as possible,” he said.
Currently, Chautauqua County has three shovel-ready sites – Stoneman Industrial Park in the town of Busti, Chadwick Bay Industrial Park in the town of Dunkirk, and the Mason Industrial Park in the town of Ellicott.
Combined the three parks have more than 20 businesses.
Stoneman Park is full. Some of the companies there include Southern Tier Brewing, Classic Brass, Chautauqua Hydroseeding, Quality Manufacturing Systems, Allen Fire Equipment Sales and Service, and Southern Tier Distilling Company. “That’s a pretty impressive list of companies that, but for the business park, they might not be here,” Geise said.
Chadwick Bay Industrial Park has a little bit of room. The park has Nestle Purina, Dunkirk Metal Products, GEI – Global Environmental Industrial, Stericyle, and a warehouse that was the former Berry Plastics building. “There’s about 25 acres still in that business park, but they’re small (sections). One is eight acres, one is seven and one is 10. There’s about 25 acres total but they’re not near each other,” Geise said.
Mason Industrial Park has some room as well. Businesses there include include Serta Mattress, Stannard Group, Electrovaya, Bush Industries, Arthur R. Gren Company, Frito-Lay, Plyler Entry Systems, and Larson Metal Manufacturing. Geise said there’s about 50 acres of land, but some of that is wetlands, leaving only about 30 acres available for development.
According to an OBSERVER newspaper clipping, the Chadwick Bay and Stoneman industrial parks were established during Mark Thomas’ administration. He was county executive from 1998 to 2005.
A Post-Journal newspaper clipping states that construction on the Joseph Mason Industrial Park began in the mid-1970s. After a long period of preparation, development began to slowly creep in. After Bush Industries came in, a more steady stream of businesses came in the park.
Even though there are small portions in two of the county’s industrial development parks, Geise said many developers are seeking larger areas. “Bigger companies are looking for bigger sites, that’s why it’s important to have something that’s at least 100 acres,” he said.
Geise said they constantly get requests from investors. “It’s almost weekly,” he added.
Geise was asked how soon they would be able to give the location of their potential shovel-ready site. “Probably not until next year, early next year,” he said.