Niagara County Developer Plans Town of Tonawanda Industrial Park, With Tax Breaks | Business premises


A Niagara County entrepreneur-turned-developer wants to capitalize on strong demand for more manufacturing and warehousing space in the region by building a new industrial park in the town of Tonawanda – with tax breaks.

Joseph Paolini, owner of Paolini Enterprises Inc. in Sanborn, is proposing to construct five new buildings on a 4-acre site at the corner of Gibson Street and Hackett Drive, which he will lease to small fixture manufacturers and distribution companies. It is part of the former 42-acre Spaulding Fiber factory, which closed 30 years ago after operating since 1912.

Paolini said he particularly targets the need for smaller facilities and projects an average of 20 to 35 tenants in total, depending on their specific needs. Its $2.055 million Spaulding Business Park project calls for each building to contain 9,152 square feet, for a total of 45,760 square feet of space – split evenly between industrial production and warehouse.

The project is the developers’ latest effort to address a severe shortage of industrial space in the area, where less than 2% of existing warehouse and manufacturing space is available for lease. This poses a major challenge to economic developers and threatens their efforts to maintain existing businesses and attract new ones.

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A rendering of the proposed Spaulding Business Park in the town of Tonawanda, to be developed by Joseph Paolini.

Joseph Paolini

“We have ongoing interest from Erie County tenants in our other two parks,” Paolini said. “There aren’t many facilities like this for the small manufacturer, the small business that has an online business but needs warehouse space. That’s who it’s primarily for.”

To support the project, Paolini is seeking a package of sales, mortgage registration and land tax relief from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, totaling at least $110,000.

ECIDA will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 10:30 a.m. on May 31 in Tonawanda, and its board is expected to vote on the proposal in June. The hearing will be broadcast live and public comments will be accepted until 4 p.m. on June 21.

Paolini, who started his business as a landscape design and installation business in 1994, operates a full-service general contracting and property maintenance business, but has also expanded into commercial development. It already owns the 10,200 square foot Niagara Business Park complex in Wheatfield and the Bulldog Business Park in Sanborn, with three 4,000 square foot buildings on formerly vacant land.

He also operates — but does not own — several Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Erie and Niagara counties, as well as the 210,000-square-foot Mid-City Plaza in North Tonawanda.

Its two retail parks are fully leased, with waiting lists of tenants, and they cater to the same businesses as the proposed new development. Paolini noted in his application to ECIDA that there are “no other developers building small facilities” for manufacturers who need 1,000 to 5,000 square feet of space.

With this in mind, Paolini purchased the Tonawanda property from the city for $120,000. The flat land was once occupied by a factory which was demolished over a decade ago, but has been vacant ever since. It is already zoned for light industrial development, and Paolini has submitted site plans to the city for his project.

If approved, Paolini said he plans to begin work in July and complete the project in two or three phases, with each phase containing 10,000 to 20,000 square feet. The first tenants will take possession in May 2023, with final completion by July 2025. According to his application, he expects the project to create at least 20 full-time jobs within two years, with a payroll nearly a million dollars.

In his request, Paolini wrote that the incentives are not necessary to prevent a relocation, but he insisted that “without the financial assistance of the agency, this project would not be possible” due to the rise material and labor costs, new building codes and the lack of all signed leases. However, he noted that “tenants have been identified and are awaiting final construction details.”

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