A small Clarence developer has taken a huge step forward with a major project on North Tonawanda's riverfront.
Construction for a $20 million new housing complex has begun at 600 River Road, across the street from Recreational Warehouse and adjacent to a number of marinas. Officials are betting the 110 new apartment and townhouse units will serve as a catalyst for other projects and help connect the river to the more expansive development happening along the canal, as well as to Buffalo's waterfront.
"This is brand new, modern, top-of-the-line," said Viscone Enterprises Manager Tom Celik. "They're going to be between $1,000, $1,100 up to $1,800, $1,900, $2,000. They'll be on the larger side. They will be around 900 square foot all the way up to approximately 1,400 square foot."
Celik said the entire project will be completed in two phases, with a model available in spring 2018 and phase one completed by spring 2019. Before construction could begin, he said the company had to complete more than $1 million in site remediation, which took about two years.
New York State Sen. Rob Ortt said the six-acre site used to be Tonawanda Iron Works, a former steel plant, and had been long vacant. He said there really has not been much development along that portion of the river, except for the upgrading of the city-owned marina.
"I think people are glad to see something happening there," Ortt said. "You know, you're taking a piece of property that's not on the tax rolls - a good size piece of property - and putting it back on the tax rolls and, obviously, you're going to be bringing people into your community who want to live on the water."
Ortt compared River's Edge to the recently opened Remington Lofts along the canal side of North Tonawanda and said Viscone took a chance on their new project with the help of brownfield tax credits.
"For cities particularly, places like North Tonawanda, Lackawanna, Buffalo, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga, you know, those kinds of areas where you had industry and heavy manufacturing years ago, a lot of those places that are gone, the properties that they left behind have contamination," said Ortt, "and if you want to see those properties given new life, this kind of program is essential."
Celik said a total of seven buildings will be constructed; the tallest two will be four-stories high. He said the public also will have full walkable access along the water.
"We're giving full public access to citizens to be able to walk into the site and walk up to the water and be able to walk up and down," Celik said. "From the road, you're only going to really see the top two floors of the apartment buildings. You can't really see the water anyway off of River Road becausethe elevation is kinda curved."
"If you go back 10, 15 years ago, I don't think you would have seen investors betting on North Tonawanda," said Ortt, "and now we're moving go the next waterfront. This is very much a part of the comprehensive master plan for NT. We want to connect that river corridor to our downtown corridor. We want to link them as much as possible."