August 6, 2013
Business complex taking shape in Homer
HOMER — Local businessman Jerry Contento has been redeveloping a former chemical and soap factory at 41 James St. in the village into space for several businesses.
“When you have activity, it livens up and things start to happen,” Contento said.
By the time he was ready to purchase the property in 2011, there was not a lot of work that needed to be done and very different groups of people were interested in occupying space almost immediately.
Today, the building complex houses Ajax Energy, an oil and natural gas company; E.L. Wood Braiding Co. Inc., a rope and cordage manufacturer; and a practice area for the Crown City Rollerz, a local roller derby team.
The facility is not just one building — it is made up of many buildings constructed at different times over the years.
Realtor Dave Yaman helped Contento market the building as he was looking for tenants. He said the main building on the 4.1 acre property as well as the two warehouses, rail siding and two process buildings all have their unique history.
“There’s two modern three-four-story warehouses and it (the main building) was built in the early 1900s,” Yaman said. “When they added square footage, they used the technology of the day.”
Initially, Contento thought the building would be of interest to a business — specializing in light manufacturing or in need of more warehouse space — that would be interested in buying the whole property, but he does not mind having the facility split up to accommodate each tenant’s needs.
“We’re pleased,” Contento said, “It’s been self-sufficient; we got a whole lot of different businesses doing their own thing.”
Jay DeLine is the owner of Ajax Energy and he started looking into the James Street property in March 2011 when he wanted to expand his business. He said moving to James Street was an easy decision to make.
“We had a smaller office that we had outgrown,” DeLine said. “We were looking for something 2,000 to 3,000 square feet; something we could grow into.”
DeLine joked about having, “a built-in security force,” in the neighboring Homer Police Department, but he added he is satisfied with the decision he made to move into the complex.
“Homer’s a great place to have a business; everyone’s friendly,” DeLine said. “If we have a problem, we call Jerry, but overall we don’t have too many issues.”
Looking toward the future, Contento said he still has plenty of vacant space available and he is planning on doing some minor paint jobs and repairs before the bad weather starts. He added he is willing to work with whoever is interested in becoming a part of the complex.
“We’re looking at a lot of different things; we still have a decent amount (of space),” Contento said. “When you don’t know who wants to lease, you wait and see. I’ll entertain anything.”
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