A state grant landed in North Tonawanda which city officials say will trade a long-vacant auto dealership for 21 new jobs and a face-lift downtown.
The state's Division of Housing and Community Renewal supplied $166,000 along with a quote from Governor David Paterson: "Today we are proud to offer In&Out Furniture a NYS Community Development Block Grant to expand their operations and reinvigorate an important part of the city of North Tonawanda." For less than a year, owner Mostafa Tanbakuchi has pumped thousands in private investment into the 20,000 square foot former GM auto showroom at 27 Main Street, now functioning as Ridge Furniture Warehouse. Before that it was an eyesore.
The additional money won't impact customers already perusing the showroom, but will develop an assembly and storage base for the greater business, ultimately known as In&Out.
The Lumber City Development Corporation's Chuck Bell, whose agency was instrumental in the process, said the money will be dispersed as part grant available to Tanbakuchi and in part as a low-interest loan. After a contribution by the LCDC bringing the total aid package to more than $200,000, Bell said $50,000 will be transferred as a grant and $150,000 will be made available in the form of a loan.
Most of the 21 new jobs are expected to be made available to low-to-middle income Western New Yorkers, a press release by the state DHCR. The furniture company has another location in Amherst, he added, and the intent is that the new facility will serve as an assembly area for the other location in addition to a retail operation.
"It's going to create jobs and it's in an area where we're trying to create jobs downtown," Mayor Larry Soos said. Bell said the owner reached out first, looking for a location to assemble and sell the furniture in the Tonawandas as an alternative to the former armory on Delaware Street in the City of Tonawanda, which he also owns.
The Armory has undergone a complete renovation as well; it's now an event catering space called Tonawanda Castle.
Bell said much of the work already completed for the property was done with the promise the city would promote the effort by seeking the grant money. "We are always seeking to increase business in our community and In&Out Furniture will be now taking what was a vacant building and making it a viable business in our community."a statement from Soos reads.