Burke Homes makes second attempt at apartment project at Youngstown Cold Storage - The Buffalo News
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Burke Homes makes second attempt at apartment project at Youngstown Cold Storage

WHEATFIELD – Burke Homes, which was rejected by the Village of Youngstown two years ago when it sought to construct an apartment project on a brownfield there, is making another attempt.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency received a 15-year tax break request from Burke today for a 30-unit market-rate apartment complex at the site of the long-closed Youngstown Cold Storage, 701 Third St.

In 2010, Burke Homes, based in Hamburg, sought to construct a senior-citizen subsidized housing complex on the nearly three-acre site, which is owned by the village.

However, in the summer of 2011, the village, then led by the late Mayor Neil C. Riordan, turned the plan down after developer David Burke told officials he was planning to seek a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, for the complex.

Last year, another company, Manguso Development of Amherst, presented a 48-unit, $4.7 million senior housing plan, but dropped the idea after running into troubles with its investors, The Buffalo News reported at the time.

David Pawlik, owner of CSS Construction, who presented the project to the IDA board today, said the new $3.4 million plan won’t work unless a PILOT is granted. That would reduce the property tax bill and exempt the developers from paying sales tax on building materials and furnishings.

Asked about the village’s current view on a PILOT, Mayor Raleigh B. Reynolds said, “It’s too early to tell.” He said the Village Board gave the Burke-Pawlik team a 120-day exclusive developer agreement last month, but so far the village has not been shown any details about the proposed project.

“You know more about it than I do,” Reynolds told a reporter.

“They’re well aware of it [the PILOT request],” Pawlik said. “They’re encouraged that someone is interested in [the site].”

Pawlik said no agreement has been reached to acquire the property from the village.

The tax incentives would save the developers nearly $750,000 over 15 years, the IDA staff estimated.

Three jobs would be created: a full-time and a part-time property manager and a maintenance person, Pawlik said. There would be about 35 construction jobs.

Pawlik said senior housing was a nonstarter because his market research showed there wasn’t enough demand to fill 50 units, which was the minimum size required in order to obtain subsidies from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under a senior housing program that has since been dropped by the government.

Burke said market-rate housing should work, however. “It’s the community as well as the site,” he said. “We’re very high on Youngstown.”

The project would entail tearing down the 99-year-old former fruit packing plant, vacant since 1996. The village has owned it since 2008, after Niagara County worked out a foreclosure arrangement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation that protected the county from cleanup costs. PCBs, heavy metals, arsenic and inorganic chemicals were found at the site.

“It’s an economic eyesore. It’s an albatross around the community. It’s [in] a residential neighborhood,” Pawlik said.

The county committed $200,000 in brownfields funding it obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the site. However, Pawlik said the remediation is not complete, although he said it would take only about two weeks of work to finish it.

The 30 apartments would be in a single two-story building. Pawlik said the offerings would be one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 825 to 950 square feet, with rents of $1 to $1.05 per square foot. All appliances would be included.

Pawlik said if construction starts next spring, the complex should open in the spring of 2015.

A public hearing will be held by the IDA before the board votes on the PILOT, which could occur as soon as its Dec. 9 meeting. The time and place for the hearing have yet to be determined.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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