Sites contain hazardous materials
at $2.09 million, includes the 162,000-square-foot former Nabisco warehouse. The properties are connected.
Milstein, who owns Niagara Falls Redevelopment, acquired the properties in 2003, but did not start his case until 2011. Through Weinmann and appraiser Anthony A. Girasole, he argued that the properties were “shuttered” manufacturing facilities that can no longer be used that way because the zoning was changed in July 2009 to allow only commercial or residential use.
The facilities are in “poor condition” and have been vacant for 18 years, except for some storage use for the warehouse from 2015 to 2018, the judge noted. And Milstein’s team presented “uncontroverted evidence” that the sites contain significant hazardous materials and environmental contamination that must be remediated before they can be reused, the judge added.
Girasole and environmental consultant Raj Chopra of CEM testified that the Rainbow site contained asbestos, lead, mold, industrial waste and two 25,000-gallon diesel fuel tanks, according to court documents.
“It’s a big eyesore to anyone who enters the city of Niagara Falls,” Weinmann said.
The site is east of downtown Niagara Falls. The surrounding area was traditionally heavy industry, with factories for Occidental Chemical and predecessor Hooker Chemical, as well as Moore Business Forms, E.I. DuPont, Olin Corp. and Washington Mills.
The judge noted that Chopra projected cleanup costs for Rainbow at $1.31 million, while Ontario Specialty Contracting estimated demolition and removal costs of $5.54 million, including asbestos abatement. That brought the value of that property down to zero, Girasole argued.
The Memorial Parkway property, on the other hand, is functionally obsolete and can’t be used for what it was originally intended, but should still be valued for assessment at $975,000, Girasole said.
GAR’s Allen asserted that the Nabisco warehouse was in “fair condition,” citing shortterm improvements to allow its use for rental storage. Combining the properties into one, he claimed that the assessment was $3.89 million as of July 2010 and had increased to $4.43 million by July 2016. But the judge found those values to be excessive and unjustified.