Uniland Development Co. has paid back $490,000 in federal aid the company received in 2003 to help develop a Lancaster industrial park that remains vacant, Lancaster Industrial Development Agency officials disclosed Tuesday.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was issued on condition that Uniland create 25 low- to moderate-income jobs at the park within three years. The company was granted several extensions on its deadline but failed to find any tenants. In May, HUD ordered the company to repay the loan by the end of last week.
"Obviously the development did not take place there that was promised," Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli, who serves as IDA chairman, said at the agency's meeting Tuesday.
The money passed from HUD to Erie County to the Town of Lancaster to the developer, and the repayment check of $490,339 followed a reverse path last week, Fudoli said.
"Case closed," said Paul R. Leone, a consultant to the IDA.
The returned grant money will be used to boost another eligible development project in the county, though not necessarily in Lancaster, Erie County officials previously said.
The 128-acre industrial park, known as Eastport Commerce Center, remains on the market, and Uniland officials have in the past expressed optimism that they will be able to find a tenant or tenants.
"It is business as usual for us. Eastport Commerce Center remains one of the stronger parcels in our portfolio, and we continue to actively market it both locally and nationally," Uniland spokeswoman Therese J. Hickock said in an email.
The Eastport Commerce Center site is one of three finalists selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as the future home of a national veterans cemetery in Western New York.
It's not known exactly when federal officials will select the winning site from among the Lancaster property and two parcels in Corfu, Genesee County.
. IDA members discussed hiring an environmental consultant to determine what portion of a 29-acre, agency-owned property is wetland and therefore unusable for development.
The agency plans to sell the irregularly shaped parcel that runs between Cemetery Road and Walter Winter Drive, along the town's Heritage Trail, and has retained John E. Mikoley, an associate broker with Pyramid Brokerage Co., to market the site.
The agency bought the land from the town several years ago as an investment, Leone said after Tuesday's meeting.
An appraisal performed in 2010 determined that 9˝ acres of land along Cemetery Road, zoned for light industrial use, are most suitable for development. Mikoley and Leone declined to reveal the appraised value of the property.
. Fudoli and Leone announced that top officials from Erie Engineered Products, a manufacturer of shipping and storage containers with a facility in North Tonawanda, will take a look next week at the former Colecraft building, 3949 Walden Ave., which is owned by the town and is up for sale.
Company representatives have expressed interest in the site, which the town purchased for $1.6 million in 2003 to use as a new police headquarters - plans that never came to fruition.
The town has hired Pyramid Brokerage to list and market the property and has shown the aging industrial building to officials from other companies, including Harper International, but so far has not reached agreement with any buyer. The Lancaster IDA could be asked to provide tax incentives for reuse of the building, Fudoli said.