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Sonwil Distribution to Build in City

Purchase of 54 Acres in Industrial Park Planned

Buffalo News
Sonwil Distribution plans to build a distribution center in Buffalo's Lakeside Commerce Park that will be the largest project at the site.

Sonwil has agreed to buy 54 acres in the industrial park, located in South Buffalo on the Lackawanna border, for a 300,000- square-foot warehouse. The Buffalo Urban Development Corp.'s board gave final approval to a letter of intent for the deal.

Cheektowaga-based Sonwil, a developer, public warehouse provider and transportation broker, will use the warehouse space to serve its clients, said Peter Cammarata, president of the BUDC. "They have a client base from throughout North America that swears by them."

Sonwil already has a large local presence through its warehouses. Buffalo prevailed for the latest project over candidates such as Columbus, Ohio, Cammarata said.

"They are very much committed to the region and the city," he said.

The distribution center will be the latest addition to a business park that used to be a dormant industrial property. City officials said the project demonstrates the value of having "shovel ready" properties to market to companies within the city's boundaries.

Two other companies already operate there. Cobey Inc., which designs and makes specialized systems and compressor packages used by the petrochemical industry, finished its plant in late 2006. CertainTeed, which makes vinyl fence railing and decking, has been in Lakeside since 2005.

Construction of the Sonwil warehouse is expected to begin next March and be completed by the end of summer, Cammarata said. Economic development officials say if Sonwil's current pace of growth continues, the company is interested in adding a second building of similar size adjacent to the new warehouse, perhaps within three years.

Cammarata said the BUDC, city officials and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise worked together on the project. Mayor Byron Brown met with Stuart Wilson, Sonwil's president, to make a pitch for Buffalo, Cammarata said.

Wilson, in a statement, said the site's "strategic location, advanced design and sophisticated technology" would help Sonwil serve its clients.

Sonwil will be eligible for Empire Zone credits for the project through the Empire State Development Corp. It can also apply for Brownfield Tax Credits through the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

And because Sonwil plans to make the warehouse an energy efficient, "LEED-certified" building, it can also pursue incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. LEED is short for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, a system commonly used to measure whether a building hits targets beneficial to the environment.

Cammarata said Sonwil was also drawn to the site's railroad access and large acreage. "They wanted a lot of land to work with for future growth," he said.

Lakeside Commerce Park has a total of about 180 developable acres, and more additions could be coming soon: Cammarata said the BUDC is reviewing four other letters of intent for projects at the business park.

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