The former Schoellkopf Aniline and Chemical Co. power house near the corner of Elk and Lee Streets in Buffalo once powered part of the city's heavy industry.
With much of that industry long gone, the building will serve a new purpose with the help of Jon Williams and his company, OSC Holdings, Inc.
"This is where our region was born and hopefully this is where our region is reborn, right? This is the area that brings us back," Williams said.
The former boiler building was built in 1917, part of what later became the Buffalo Color Corporation.
It generated the power needed to make colored dyes used by many industries, even to add color to blue jeans.
There was once a complex of buildings on the site near the Buffalo River, but the power house now stands alone. The color corporation closed down in the late 1990s.
Williams and OSC Holdings bought the property 11 years ago — working to give it new life.
"Our history was industrial innovation. While we look at it today and say that was kind of archaic, in the day that was state of the art,” he said.
Revitalizing the site has been a complex process. Toxic chemicals had to be remediated for years before any work could happen, a combined effort of OSC and Honeywell at a cost of $27 million.
Heavy equipment inside had to be demolished and there were other buildings in rough shape that had to be torn down. That cost Williams the chance to use historic tax credits.
"We had to do so much modification to it that we couldn't comply with the historic regulation," Williams said.
Now, the focus is on turning the power house into a $15 million entertainment center. Think weddings, parties, conferences and more, complete with kitchens, bars and a rooftop patio overlooking the city.
"I like to think of it as the coolest event space in Buffalo," Williams said. "The building is really the draw and we're trying to preserve that to extent we can."
The building’s exterior signatures are about two-dozen massive arched windows that are being replaced.
"They've become kind of an iconic look for the building. You see that as you drive by now. The windows went in and it felt like everything got done," Williams said.
The facility will also include a couple of apartments, and OSC will move its headquarters there.
Williams is thinking big picture about the area. He also owns the land across the street that's home to the new and still expanding $13 million Medaille College athletic complex. It features turf fields and an indoor fieldhouse, with additional outdoor fields installed this year.
The Buffalo Color restoration is expected to be complete in September.
"I think you'll see this continue down Elk Street and really turn this into almost like a Larkinville. A lot of momentum here," Williams said.