With its moratorium on providing incentives for senior citizen housing projects set to expire in a little more than a month, the Amherst Industrial Development Agency is poised to let the temporary ban expire.
But that doesn’t mean the agency is ready to start approving tax breaks for that type of housing project that has proliferated in recent years.
James J. Allen, the IDA’s executive director, said Friday he is not recommending that the moratorium be extended. But he said the board should approach senior housing projects with caution while the issue is debated by officials from all of the county’s six IDAs at a forum, possibly as early as January.
If the moratorium lapses, Nathan Neill, the IDA’s attorney, recommended that the board adopt temporary guidelines, covering concerns about the impact of senior housing projects and whether they would be permitted outside designated enhancement zones.
The IDA imposed the moratorium in June in the wake of a study by the Regional Institute at the University at Buffalo that found that fewer than 1 percent of senior citizens in the county move away because they can’t find appropriate housing, contradicting a long-held notion that a lack of housing was driving residents away. That finding raised the question whether there is still a need for IDAs to support the development and construction of new senior housing throughout Erie County.
“We still need more data,” Allen said.
The IDA imposed the moratorium a month after it turned down an incentive package worth more than $1.3 million for an $8.9 million project to build 99 market-rate apartments for senior citizens on Maple Road. Without the incentives, the developer said monthly rents, which would have averaged $900 to $1,000 with the tax breaks, would increase by as much as $200. “Every developer that we have discussions with says that without incentives, the project doesn’t work,” Allen said. “And the one project we turned down didn’t get built.”