Brownfield grant turns ‘spirited’ vision into reality

By Dave Bertola


After a recent, $4.5 million transformation, Buffalo’s old barrel factory doesn’t look so old anymore.

The Vandalia Street building, which sat vacant for years, dates to 1903. It has been refurbished and, when it opened in 2016, repurposed as commercial space. The anchor tenant is Lakeward Spirits, a distillery that manufactures rum, gin and other spirits. It is run by Steve Bystran, his wife Andi and another couple.

Bystran had a vision for transforming the building, which was originally home to Quaker Cooperage. While refurbishing, he learned about National Grid’s Brownfield Redevelopment Assistance Program, which provides grants to fund utility-related infrastructure improvements, demolition and costs related to redeveloping brownfields or abandoned buildings.

“This project never could have happened without it,” Steve Bystran said of National Grid’s support.

Through the program, National Grid paid a $296,000 grant to Bystran’s company, which was used to remove asbestos and lead paint.

“National Grid helped us with those large remediation portions, which were very expensive,” Bystran said. “The fact that National Grid was able to help us with those expenses was incredible.”

National Grid also assisted Bystran by identifying opportunities to run the facility more efficiently. These included LED lighting, air compressors, and heating and ventilating.

After old wood and support beams were torn out, much of the wood was reused throughout the facility as flooring and benches. Since opening, the company has attracted other tenants. Upstairs, Bystran hosts special events, and the refurbishing continues, as framework has been erected for apartments.

More information about National Grid’s economic development grants can be found at

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