LOCKPORT – The new building at Yahoo’s Lockport data center will be constructed to be able to accommodate more than 300 employees, the facility’s manager told the Town of Lockport Planning Board on Tuesday.
That’s far more than the 115 new jobs the Internet company promised when it obtained its second package of tax breaks and low-cost power in April.
The capacity of the new facility “can change with business needs,” Paul Bonaro, data center facilities director for Yahoo, told the board.
After the meeting, Bonaro told The Buffalo News that there are no promises of 300-plus high-tech jobs. “There’s no commitment for anything beyond the current scope,” he said.
But officials weren’t holding back. “That’s 300 young people who are educated here who can stay here or work here,” said State Sen. George D. Maziarz, who attended the Planning Board meeting.
“They’ve definitely fulfilled every commitment they’ve made,” said David R. Kinyon, the town’s economic development director. He said Yahoo now employs about 90 people at its existing Lockport data center.
“We have hopes they will exceed the 200-employee level shortly,” Kinyon said. He was counting the call-center trainees, who will work at the Sheridan Meadows office park in Amherst until the new Lockport facility is complete.
The Planning Board scheduled a public hearing and vote on the site plan for 7 p.m. next Tuesday. Chairman Richard Forsey said his board can’t vote on the plans until approval for the project comes from the Niagara County Planning Board, which meets Monday.
Bonaro said the second complex, adjoining the existing one in the Town of Lockport industrial park off Junction Road, will be built in two parts.
In all, three buildings are to be erected, but Bonaro said the first phase, for which construction is expected to start about Dec. 1, will include one computer pod and half of the central “core operations” building.
That will house the 24-hour “customer care center” Yahoo intends to place there. The second half of the operations building and a second computer pod will be constructed at a future date, Bonaro said.
Orest Ciolko of Wendel, an engineering firm working with Yahoo, said the new computer buildings will be about twice as long as the five existing ones. They will be 520 feet long, 137 feet wide and 41 feet high.
Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly said it’s up to the Planning Board to decide whether to require a new environmental impact statement or use the generic one from the original data center project.
Kinyon said Yahoo will not need to apply for another tax break or power allocation for the second half of the work. The incentives granted in April, which included an 18-year property tax exemption and a 20-year exemption on paying sales tax on building materials or equipment placed in the call center, will cover both halves of the project.
The $45.2 million benefit package included an estimated $30.5 million in tax savings, $2 million in state tax credits and a seven-year renewable deal for half-price electricity from the New York Power Authority.
In 2009, Yahoo was granted a similar benefit package for its original data center.