Niagara Gazette

April 16, 2013

Town of Niagara taking lead on mall project

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — TOWN OF NIAGARA — By the end of the month, Town of Niagara officials should be in the driver's seat when it comes to overseeing the planned $71 million expansion of the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.

The town council has set a special meeting for April 30 and at that time is expected to declare the municipality will have so-called "lead agency" status on the new development. The board had previously solicited all other agencies potentially involved in the project to determine if they were interested in "lead agency" status on the project.

Designating a "lead agency," is the first step in a mandated State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.

Town Supervisor Steve Richards has said the solicitation of other agencies and the designation of the town as lead agency will put the municipality in control of what happens at the Military Road mall.

At it's regular meeting Tuesday, the town council also received a briefing from executives with the Fashion Outlets' parent company, Macerich Real Estate Investment Trust, on initial plans for the development.

The officials said the expansion will make the mall the 20th largest in the United States. They also estimated the project will create 900 direct and indirect construction jobs and 600 full- and part-time jobs at the mall itself.

Macerich is seeking tax breaks from the the Town of Niagara Industrial Development Agency to move the project forward. The agency is considering an application for a 15-year Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes agreement.

The deal would save the company $7.8 million in tax payments.

The mall owners are already benefitting from a 15-year PILOT granted to the previous owners, Talisman Companies LLC, in 2009. As part of that agreement, the mall's assessed value dropped from $20 million to $15 million over the course of the agreement.