The Town of Lockport is applying for $882,000 through the Restore New York Communities Initiative to remove asbestos and mold from the county-owned Switzer Building.
The Switzer building, part of the Davison Road complex that previously served as the county infirmary, has sat vacant for years, partly as a result of structural issues and the building being split between the city and town of Lockport.
Supervisor Mark Crocker said the town applied for the Restore NY funds because the city already has two pending applications, for properties at 13 and 17 West Main St., giving the town a better chance at being awarded funding.
Crocker added it's in both communities' interest to restore the 25,000 square-foot, two-story building (excluding basement space) on Davison Road.
“We don't want it to fall into total disrepair where it will need a demolition. ... The building appears to be in solid condition despite mold and asbestos," Crocker said.
Asbestos and mold remediation would cost close to $1 million. If awarded the grant, the county would be required to contribute 10 percent, bringing the total investment to $980,000.
But the cost of developing the building may be much higher.
In March 2015, when the county was considering buying the building, Assistant County Attorney R. Thomas Burgasser said it would cost $5.7 million to renovate and make the building viable.
“I would estimate that $4 to $5 million would need to be invested in that," Crocker said.
Another issue is that the building is split between the town and city, which have different zoning and building requirements and different tax rates.
Legislators and town and city officials have met several times over the years to discuss annexation — having either the town of city cede a parcel, so the complex is fully in one municipality — but to no avail.
Crocker said that about a year and a half ago, a developer expressed interest in the property, but wanted it to be entirely in one municipality, preferably the town due to its lower tax rate. He and Mayor Anne McCaffrey discussed annexation, but nothing came of it.
"I'm sure the city is not keen on the idea of losing property that can generate revenue," Crocker said.
McCaffrey declined to comment.
Asked if annexation talks might resume, potentially after asbestos and mold remediation is complete, Crocker said: "It's something we'll consider if and when the time comes.”