LOCKPORT – Two Niagara County Legislature committees voted Monday to accept an offer from R.B. Mac Construction Co. of Lockport for the county’s land on Davison Road in Lockport, even though it’s far below what the county was offered in the past.
R.B Mac bid $50,700 for the 16.9-acre front portion of the 66-acre property, which includes the former county infirmary, also known as the Switzer Building. Also, it will have a right of first refusal to buy the open 49.4-acre rear portion for $50,000 if the front is developed to the county’s satisfaction within five years.
The full Legislature is expected to vote on the deal June 17.
The Administration and Public Works committees refused to consider a late bid from Mulvey Construction of Lockport that was $46,000 more than R.B. Mac’s.
Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said he received a call from Mulvey’s attorney late Friday, and paperwork came in Monday.
“Not only was it late,” Burgasser said, “they also wanted to change the bid specs.”
He said Mulvey didn’t commit to making at least one story of the old infirmary habitable and also wanted their offer conditional on an asbestos and mold inspection. Burgasser also said Mulvey wanted to seek a tax break from the county Industrial Development Agency.
Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, said he received a call late Monday afternoon from another person he wouldn’t name, offering $50,000 more than Mac’s price.
“Don’t you think it’s worth holding off a week and talking to these people? It’s another $50,000 for the taxpayers,” Virtuoso urged his colleagues.
He cast the only “no” vote on the deal in Administration, while Legislator Mark J. Grozio, D-Niagara Falls, was the sole opponent in Public Works.
“The purchase price is a little low without getting an appraisal on the property,” Grozio said.
“The Democrats wanted to go out to bid,” said Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, the Public Works chairman. He said there was a risk involved in doing so.
R.B. Mac negotiated with the county for about a year and a half, with its initial offer reported to be slightly below the county’s asking price of $175,000 as listed with a real estate broker.
The current offer was the only one received in a sealed-bid effort that concluded April 22, Burgasser said.
When it was pointed out that the offers the county had received for the property have trended lower and lower, Glatz replied, “While the asbestos and the mold grows higher and higher.”
Syracuse said costs of renovating the old infirmary have been estimated at $500,000 to $1 million.
“We have a solid bidder willing to pay the county money. Otherwise, we’d be in the hook for these buildings,” Syracuse said. “Given how long we’ve been dealing with this company, R.B. Mac, they’re committed and they have a plan.”
Syracuse said he thought it was similar to R.B. Mac’s original plan, which was converting the infirmary to apartments and constructing patio homes for senior citizens on the rest of the front parcel.
“I probably won’t comment on that until it’s a done deal,” said Robert Burke, a partner in R.B. Mac.