Savarino Companies

New Life Planned for Building

Buffalo News

3/17/2010

New Era Cap Co.'s former manufacturing plant in Buffalo has sat idle since the company closed it in 2004.

But an investment group led by developer Sam Savarino intends to rejuvenate the six-story complex with a rehabilitation estimated at $18 million to $20 million.

The group, 500 Seneca St. LLC, acquired the property at Myrtle and Seneca streets from New Era for about $200,000, according to county records.

Plans are just taking shape, but Savarino outlined a vision that includes a manufacturer on the first two floors, and office space on the upper floors.

The property at Seneca and Spring streets is not far from the Larkin at Exchange building that transformed another vacant industrial property.

Additional development is planned for the Larkin district, and that growth was one reason the property at 500 Seneca appealed to Savarino. "Not that long ago, people were willing to give this building away, almost," he said.

The building holds a place in the history of New Era, the family-owned business founded in Buffalo. The hatmaker moved its Buffalo plant to the Seneca-Myrtle location in the mid-1980s when its previous home was razed to make way for the downtown ballpark now known as Coca- Cola field.

New Era several years ago decided to consolidate its local production at its Derby plant, and shut the Buffalo factory. The multistory property, built in 1920, was considered outdated for modern- day manufacturing.

The company had weighed its options for the plant after closing it before deciding to put it on the market roughly two years ago, said Dana Marciniak, manager of corporate communications at New Era Cap.

"We thought it was about time to find somebody who wanted to revitalize it and not knock it down," Marciniak said. New Era moved its corporate headquarters downtown from Derby a few years ago. The company received a number of offers, and negotiations with a different prospective buyer fell through before 500 Seneca LLC stepped forward and struck a deal, Marciniak said.

Savarino said he already has received inquiries from a manufacturer interested in moving in, as well as some potential tenants for the offices.

mglynn@buffnews.com



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