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LOCKPORT – A surprise chemical discovery that torpedoed developer David L. Ulrich’s proposed sale of Ulrich City Centre will result in the city reclaiming the parking lot there.

The Common Council is expected to vote Wednesday to have the city take back title to the parking lot, more grandly called the “courtyard” when the city’s Friday night summer rock concerts were held there.

Those concerts are being shifted to a municipal parking lot at Chestnut and Elm streets in 2013, but Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Friday the discovery played no role in the decision to move the concerts.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said, “There are some sediments that are encapsulated beneath the pavement that do not rise to any level of contamination, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.”

Those paved-over sediments contain dry-cleaning chemicals from a long-ago cleaning store on the site bounded by Main, Locust and Walnut streets.

The lot was cleared in the Urban Renewal process in the early 1970s and remained vacant for three decades until the city gave it to Ulrich in 2004.

In that agreement, the city pledged that the site was environmentally clean, but if it wasn’t, the city promised to indemnify Ulrich against any costs.

No trouble arose until Ulrich tried to sell City Centre this summer to Darrel R. Lloyd, an appraiser at KLW Group in Amherst, which helped with the city’s last property reassessment program. It was Ulrich’s second attempt in the past year to sell the property.

“The first sale fell through for financial reasons. The second fell through because of this,” Ulrich said.

Lloyd’s bank conducted some test borings on the site and found the contamination July 29. Ottaviano said the city hired CRA, formerly Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, and it confirmed the findings. The testing cost the city less than $1,000.

“Urban Renewal was done kind of sloppily. However, in today’s lending market, commercial lenders are much more stringent,” Ottaviano said.

Ulrich said no money will change hands in the transfer of the title. It will not affect parking. It also gives Ulrich the option to buy back the parking lot for $1.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com