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Sonwil ready and willing to build second warehouse on waterfront

 A combination of factors, including a growing need for distribution and warehouse space, is fueling construction plans by a developer in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park.

Peter Wilson, president and CEO of Sonwil Distribution Center Inc., said his company is moving closer to building a 300,000-square-foot warehouse/distribution center as a companion to a similar-sized structure developed there in 2008. That building is fully leased with tenants such as General Mills and Dyson, a vacuum manufacturer.

Sonwil had planned to build both warehouses in sequence, but the national economic slowdown in 2008 put the second building on hold.

"We still have every intention of putting that facility up," Wilson said.

The key will be to sign enough tenants to make it economically viable. Wilson said talks are under way with prospective tenants and could be completed within a few months.

"We need (tenants) to green-light it. We need that core anchor," he said of the project. "We consider it a works-in-progress."

At a recent Buffalo Urban Development Corp. meeting, city officials expressed hope that the project will get under way this year.

Greater need for warehouse/distribution space came to the forefront last month when CBRE/Buffalo noted there was a major drop in available square footage in that category.

The report by the commercial real estate firm found that local industrial space decreased its vacancy rate from 13.2 percent to 9.2 percent. The region has about 62 million square feet of industrial/warehouse/distribution space. In late 2011, there was more than 8.5 million square feet of available industrial space. By the end of 2012, it dropped to 5.9 million square feet.

Since 2010, approximately 125,000 square feet of new industrial space has been developed.

Sonwil has one of the region's largest portfolio of industrial space with projects in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, West Seneca and Elma.

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