LOCKPORT – With 37 tenants employing 212 people, Harrison Place is finally turning a solid profit, the city’s development agency learned last week.
Harrison Place is the name of the former Harrison Radiator plant at Walnut and Washburn streets, four buildings and 461,000 square feet of commercial space.
It’s owned by 210 Walnut LLC, a private entity set up by the city and controlled by the Greater Lockport Development Corp., the city development agency.
Although 210 Walnut was showing an occasional monthly operating profit from the spring of 2012 on, the presence of Trek Inc., the electronic instrument maker that moved its plant and about 100 jobs from Medina to Lockport last summer, clinched the complex’s viability.
Net operating income was $98,127 for the first four months of this year, on revenue of $203,982. Once interest costs on loans are subtracted, the net profit for the period is still $65,812.
It means the investment the city made in 2006, taking ownership of the complex and attempting to redevelop it after a previous owner defaulted on $1 million in loans, is paying off.
“This was a gutsy move they made. It’s good to see them rewarded,” said B. Thomas Mancuso of Batavia, whose Mancuso Business Development Group was hired in 2007 to manage the property and recruit tenants.
Today, there are tenants in every building, and some of the discussion at last week’s development corporation meeting was about looming parking and space shortages at Harrison Place, both unimaginable issues a few years ago.
Trek recently demolished a small outbuilding to make way for 20 to 30 more parking spots.
“As we grow, parking’s going to be a real problem,” Mancuso told the development board. “It will constrict growth as we go forward.”
Building 3, the only building in the complex that’s still unheated, is used for short-term storage tenants, but Mancuso reported that prospective long-term tenants are pushing for first-floor space there, unavailable in other buildings.
“Building 3 is the atrium building. It’s gorgeous industrial space,” said Harry Sicherman, the city’s economic development consultant. “We were saving that for ‘the big one.’ Once you start putting tenants in there, that all goes away.”
“Revenue continues to be ahead of plan. Expenditures also are ahead of plan, but that’s to be expected,” Mancuso said. “We are on a path to positive cash flow, even carrying the debt we’re carrying.”
The Trek deal called for the development agency to take out a large loan to pay for the renovation of Building 4, where Trek set up shop. The balance sheet shows 210 Walnut is carrying $3.8 million in long-term debt, but the monthly lease payments from Trek are used to cover the monthly debt payments.
Harrison Place has $260,000 in cash on its balance sheet, too, almost three times as much as it had at the end of 2013.
Plans for the future include hoped-for success from Harrison Place’s partnership with the University at Buffalo in the state’s “innovation hotspot” program, which aims to grow technology businesses and lure venture capital.
“Harrison Place is the only partner in the group that can accommodate manufacturing,” Mancuso said.
Another idea is to offer “maker space,” with industrial equipment that can be shared by start-ups or companies experimenting with new ideas or looking to train personnel.
“Five years ago, we would take anything,” Mancuso said. But with Trek and the Challenger Learning Center and its space flight simulators, Harrison Place seems to be taking on a technology look.
However, it probably won’t all go that route. Mancuso confessed a weakness for “folks who bolt stuff to the floor and make things.”