Niagara Gazette — Proposed tax break agreements for a pair of hotel projects in downtown Niagara Falls faced some opposition during public hearings held Wednesday at city hall.
The first project - the renovation of the former Moore Business Forms office building on Buffalo Avenue which would be converted into an 84-room Courtyard Marriott - is supported by the city. But, certain aspects of the tax abatement that the building's owners - Indian Ocean, LLC - are seeking are excessive, Mayor Paul Dyster said.
"We think this is a fantastic project and we're going to try to find a way to make it happen," Dyster said when reached by telephone following Wednesday's hearing held by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency. "But, we want to get what we can for the taxpayer."
Clara Dunn, a representative from the city's economic development department read a statement into the record on behalf of the city during the NCIDA hearing. The public hearing is a precursor to a formal vote on the application for financial assistance through the agency.
"The city of Niagara falls cannot, as a general rule, support any enhanced (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement) without clear economic justification," Dunn said.
Indian Ocean, LLC is owned by the Patel family, which owns and operates the Econolodge on Buffalo Avenue. The Patels have applied for an Opportunity Zone Program abatement and a 15-year PILOT, meaning they would pay no taxes or have a reduced tax rate on the Marriot property for 20 years.
The NCIDA has estimated that the company would receive about $1.1 million in tax breaks during the time period. The owners of the new hotel have committed to creating what amounts to 28 full-time jobs, according to the project summary from the NCIDA.
Dyster said the project should be eligible for the standard 10-year PILOT, but not the 15-year deal normally reserved for industrial projects.