LOCKPORT – Diversified Manufacturing will expand its plant and absorb an Amherst company with the same owner, while Lake Effect Ice Cream will add onto a Canal Street building where it plans to make its headquarters.
Those business moves, and others, were revealed at last week’s city Planning Board meeting.
Brian F. Costello, owner of Diversified and of Ipac, an Amherst company, said about 65 jobs will move from Ipac to Diversified, which currently employs about 100 people.
Both metal fabricating companies are solely owned by Costello, who said that for several years, workers have been switching back and forth between the two, as needed.
Moving Ipac’s operations to the plant on Ohio Street in Lockport “is going to make us a more efficient operation,” Costello said.
Since Costello acquired Ipac eight years ago, that Pineview Drive plant had handled lighter-gauge metal work, while the Lockport plant worked on heavier metal, machining and assembly.
The Planning Board approved construction of a 37,167-square-foot addition to the Diversified plant. Timothy Arlington of Apex Consulting, who presented the project to the board, said the project also involves doubling the size of the current 46-space parking lot.
Costello said construction should begin in March or April and be complete by late summer. The Ipac plant has been for sale for a year and a half, he said.
“The site work is going to be phenomenal,” he said. Arlington said the site slopes as much as 18 feet below street level.
An 8,000-square-foot “lean-to” for storage is to be added to the addition, perhaps next year. And in 2015, Costello said, the plant’s office space is to be enlarged and renovated.
This isn’t the first time Costello has acquired a company and moved its operations to Lockport. In 1998, he bought Rotary Co. of Cheektowaga and moved its work to Lockport, and in 2000 he did the same with JBA, a Lancaster company.
Costello declined to say how much he’s investing in the latest expansion.
Meanwhile, the board approved a 450-square-foot addition to 79-81 Canal St., which Lake Effect Ice Cream bought from the city to be its new production headquarters and retail shop.
Co-owner Erik Bernardi said the addition will contain a walk-in freezer for the increasingly popular brand of ice cream. It is moving from property owned by the Dale Association at 20 Lock St.
The Common Council sold the Canal Street building to Lake Effect for $50,000 on Nov. 21.
The approval wasn’t without its contentious aspects, as Planning Board member David C. Chamberlain said he didn’t like the plans. He called the addition “a vinyl wart” and said it didn’t go along with the historic architectural ambiance the city intended for the repurposed 19th-century buildings on Canal Street.
Bernardi noted that his proposal said the addition was to be built of clapboard, including clapboard removed from the current rear wall of the building, and would be the same color.
Chamberlain objected because the rear of 79-81 Canal now has four windows, and it would only have two after the work.
Bernardi said he didn’t want windows for security reasons. Board member Donald Swanson said the windows could be fake.
Bernardi said there didn’t appear to be any written rules to justify what Chamberlain was asking. “There clearly isn’t a set of guidelines, so I’m telling what we’re going to do and asking you to approve it,” he said.
After a closed-door session between the board and City Planning and Development Director R. Charles Bell, Chamberlain backed down and voted for the project, along with the rest of the board. There will be only two windows.
“We want to do our best to have it open by the beginning of ice cream season,” Bernardi said. “Our business is on the cusp of exploding. We need all the space we can get.”
He said Lake Effect sold 350 pints of ice cream on Super Bowl weekend at the Wegmans on Amherst Street in Buffalo, one of several local supermarkets that now carry the brand.
Also at last week’s meeting, the Planning Board approved plans for a Lockport Cave visitor center and ticket office on a strip of land along Gooding Street. The building is to measure 24 by 32 feet, with an 8-by-24-foot covered rear deck overlooking the Erie Canal, and an attached 12-by-30-foot pavilion.
Clarence “Clancy” Burkwit, co-owner of the Cave operator, Hydraulic Race Co., said the overlook will be open to the public for free. He said the target date for opening the new facility is May 4.
The board also approved the subdivision of the Ulrich City Centre parking lot from the surrounding buildings. The parking lot is to be transferred back to the city by owner David L. Ulrich in the wake of the discovery of buried dry-cleaning chemicals in sediment beneath the pavement.
The discovery torpedoed Ulrich’s plans to sell the site last year.