LOCKPORT – The town Planning Board gave the green light Tuesday for a slightly enlarged site plan for Yahoo’s call center on its Lockport campus.
The building size was increased by 19,000 square feet, including an additional 12,000 square feet in the call center itself, said Orest Ciolko of Wendel, the engineering firm working on Yahoo’s project.
The company also asked for and received permission to construct an additional 190 parking spaces, which Timothy Arlington of Apex Consulting, who reviewed the plans for the town, said reflected the Internet giant’s possible future needs. The total parking capacity on the Lockport site thus zoomed from 240 spaces to 430.
A Yahoo purchase of 20 more acres in the town industrial park was approved in July, meaning Yahoo owns 63 acres.
Construction began in late December on the first half of the second phase of Yahoo’s complex. Paul Bonaro, the site director, said completion of the first half, including the call center, is anticipated in the fourth quarter of this year.
In the meantime, Yahoo is operating a temporary call center in Uniland Development Co.’s Sheridan Meadows Corporate Park – North, 6400 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.
The permanent Lockport call center is to be located in the western half of the middle building of three to be erected as part of the second phase of Yahoo’s campus plan.
The buildings, to be aligned from east to west, are located on a 13-acre site northeast of the original five-pod data center.
Bonaro said the number of people working in the original data center has grown to 100.
Yahoo promised to create 115 more jobs in Lockport when it received an incentive package for Phase 2 that included an 18-year property tax reduction and a 20-year sales tax exemption on building materials and computer equipment at the new center.
Since Yahoo turns over its computer equipment every few years, the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency estimated in December that Yahoo would save $200 million in sales taxes over the next two decades, in addition to the estimated $45 million in savings on property taxes and electricity costs, the latter thanks to a discount provided by the New York Power Authority.
Ciolko said the construction that started in December will include only about half of the second phase: the call center and the northernmost computer pod building.
Unlike the computer pods, the call center will have a second floor of occupied space, Bonaro said. The building will be fronted by a three-story glass atrium.
The eastern half of the central pod will include more computers and will be constructed later, along with the southern data pod, Ciolko said.
The Planning Board authorized an increase in the total size of the three new pods from 242,000 square feet to 271,000 square feet. The call center’s height was increased to 55 feet. The company previously received a town variance allowing it to build higher than 50 feet; Yahoo will be allowed to construct as high as 75 feet in the industrial park.
Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said no public hearing was needed on the enlargement, ruling it was a relatively minor change to the site plan approved.