Shovel Ready Sites

In recent years, the term “Shovel Ready” has been used more and more to describe sites available for development. But what does this expression really mean? To those people marketing or purchasing sites, it means that they have confidence that a site is ready for development and that there are no surprises that would hinder its development In other words, that future projects are poised for quick approvals and the issuance of building permits at the earliest possible time.

In New York State, properties can obtain Shovel Ready designation through the State sponsored“Build Now New York Program”.This program is a process run through Empire State Development (ESD) that ensures a proper meaning to “Shovel Ready” and provides a State certification for properties that meet this standard.

Recently, BNE Business Development Manager, Lorrie Abounader participated with Niagara County, Wendel, National Grid, the Town of Cambria, and three property owners in getting NYS Shovel Ready Designation for a ±150 acre site on Lockport Road in the Town of Cambria. The Shovel Ready Program helped to identify and remove the impediments that kept the site from being selected for major development projects in the past.

Each Shovel Ready Designation process can be different, but this experience brought to light some of the great benefits of the NYS Shovel Ready Program. These benefits are:

The process requires coordination with State, Local and Federal Agencies, that is facilitated by ESD. This communication process can lead to “pre-approvals” or expedited approvals in the future.

Technical Information:Identification of infrastructure capabilities and capacities, environmental conditions and property issues, and the resolution of any related problems.

Municipal Processes: Ensuring that the property is zoned correctly, site plan issues are identified, community support is evaluated, and the SEQR process is completed.

Certification:  The process results in a certification as “Shovel Ready” by NYS, which allows the site to be more easily marketed by economic development organizations. It saves time in identifying a true match of the site to the developer’s requirements, with reliable/certified information residing in one spot.

In the end, your site becomes well known to those who need to market it and approve it, and the “Shovel Ready” certification means it will be able to move forward in an expedited manner. This can be your advantage in getting your property chosen for development by the appropriate customer. As a potential customer or developer, you will be assured by this certification that the issues that can stop or slow down development have been properly addressed. This is a win-win-win situation for the property owner, the developer, and ultimately the community and region which receives the economic benefits of the project.

Andrew C. Reilly, P.E., AICP

About Jenna Kavanaugh

Director, Marketing & Communications Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

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