Niagara Gazette

January 16, 2014

Youngstown cold storage site project OK'd for tax break

By Mark Scheer mark.scheer@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A development team that plans to build an apartment complex on an old cold storage facility site in the Village of Youngstown has received final approval for a tax-break package through the county’s industrial development agency.

During a meeting Wednesday, members of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency’s Board of Directors approved a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for developers David Burke and David Pawlik. 

Burke, of Burke Homes, and Pawlik, of CSS Construction, are teaming up as part of a $3.4 million effort to demolish the 99-year-old Youngstown Cold Storage facility located at 701 Third St. across from Veterans Park and a few blocks away from the Niagara River.

Burke and Pawlik have proposed the development of a 30-unit residential apartment building on the site, which has been home to the former cold storage facility since 1914. The incentive package approved by the NCIDA board will provide the developers with mortgage, property and sales tax exemptions as well as a 15-year market rate housing PILOT worth an estimated $746,000. In return, NCIDA officials estimate the project will provide about $821,000 in community benefits. 

The project is projected to create the equivalent of one and a half permanent full-time jobs and would support 32 construction jobs and two other jobs during construction, according to the developers’ application. 

Five of the seven NCIDA board members who attended Wednesday’s meeting voted to approve the developers’ application, including Kevin McCabe who said he’s “thrilled” by the prospect of the old cold storage facility being replaced by an apartment complex. He noted that, according to agency staff, no taxes have been collected on the property in 20 years and the new agreement will assure that the developers at least begin making partial tax payments in year one of the deal and beyond. 

“There’s no question it’s a liability being vacant as it is,” he said. 

Board member Henry Sloma, who attended his first meeting on Wednesday after being reappointed following his resignation from the NCIDA’s governing body last year, abstained from the cold storage vote. 

Fellow board member and Town of Wilson Supervisor Joe Jastrzemski voted against approval of the application. Following the meeting, he said he questioned the use of incentives for a project projected to create only one and a half jobs and did not agree with providing a PILOT as long as 15 years. 

“I’m not against them tearing that old cold storage down and doing something with it,” he said. 

In other matters, the board:

• Approved a six-month extension to a tax inducement previously granted to Indian Ocean, LLC, the company that is developing a hotel on the old Moore Business Forms site at 200 Rainbow Blvd. in Niagara Falls.

In its request for the extension, the company indicated that its project timeline has been pushed back due to “architectural delays.” NCIDA officials expressed confidence that the project, which involves the development of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, remains on course. 

• Agreed to hold a TEFRA hearing at an-as-yet-scheduled date at the request of representatives from the waste-to-energy firm Covanta. TEFRA is an acronym for the “Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. TEFRA requires, among other things, a public hearing following reasonable public notice as a pre-condition for the exclusion from gross income of interest on all qualified private activity bonds. 

NCIDA attorney Mark Gabriele said the request for the hearing relates to a bonding effort Covanta officials have previously undertaken through the industrial development agency in New York City. He said the company is financing the purchase of rail cars and other pieces of equipment that could be used outside the metro New York area in facilities owned by Covanta, including possibly its facility in Niagara Falls. 

Gabriele said the time, date and place of the hearing will be included in a formal notice published in the Niagara Gazette once the details have been finalized.