The Erie County Industrial Development Agency has scheduled six public hearings in early January in downtown Buffalo and the Southtowns to consider tax incentives for upcoming projects, including redevelopment of a Larkinville warehouse, the former Planing Mill building, a brewery and an apartment building.
The four Buffalo hearings are all scheduled in rapid succession Jan. 8 in the agency’s offices at 95 Perry St., Suite 403.
First, at 10 a.m., Iskalo Development Corp., through Iskalo 337 Ellicott LLC, is seeking sales, mortgage recording and property tax assistance for the proposed new production brewery to be located in the former Verizon Communications fleet service facility at 337 Ellicott St., at East Huron Street.
The 32,800-square-foot building, originally built in 1968 for Verizon to maintain vehicles and abandoned since 2010, consists of an open bay area for parking vehicles, a maintenance and wash bay, and a two-story office area. Iskalo has repainted the exterior and refreshed the interior open bay for use as parking for tenants of its nearby Electric Tower but has been unable to find a new use for the rest of the building, according to its application.
The Amherst-based developer is proposing to renovate and upgrade 14,600 square feet of the 32,800-square-foot building into space for bottling, distribution functions, support work, a tasting room and storage for Big Ditch Brewing, a startup craft brewery. The developer is also planning to buy and install the necessary machinery and equipment.
Iskalo said it has “vetted the principals” behind Big Ditch and its business model, and “believes the investment … is worthwhile.”
However, Big Ditch can pay only a “modest rent” for the first three to five years, so Iskalo is seeking ECIDA help to offset the “extensive costs” to adapt the building, the developer said. Iskalo said it will seek to subdivide the building so that the property tax breaks would apply only to the brewery portion of the building.
According to the application, the $2.56 million project would create 13 full-time jobs, with an average salary of about $25,000 and a total payroll of $320,000. If approved, work would begin in February and the brewery could open in August.
At 10:15 a.m., Sinatra & Co. Realty’s Nick Sinatra will seek sales and mortgage recording breaks for his $2.025 million conversion of the former Fenton Hotel into the Fenton Village apartments at 945 W. Ferry St.
The overall project includes the main West Ferry building, with 23 “underutilized” apartments, and three adjacent parcels at 1516, 1524 and 1526 Main St. Sinatra plans to market the units, after “significant cosmetic repairs” to graduate students and new employees of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
The 135-year-old building at 1526 Main, which has been virtually empty for a decade and has a leaky roof, has already been gutted to its original brick interior and will serve as a mixed-use facility with national retail tenants on the ground floor and luxury units on the second and third floor. A dilapidated building at 1524 Main, which was to be torn down, will now also be converted into a commercial tenant on the first floor and apartments on the upper two floors. Together, the buildings total 22,000 square feet. The third site will be used for parking.
Sinatra did not seek funding help for the main apartment building but has already found the costs more than doubling, from $1.3 million to more than $3 million. As a result, “it would be extremely helpful to complete our project with additional funding” for 1526 Main so that rents can be subsidized and competitive for commercial tenants, the company said in its application. The costs of renovation and equipment are $1.6 million. Only one job would be created, paying $65,000. If approved, work would start in January, with occupancy in mid-May.
At 10:30 a.m., TM Montante Development is seeking tax breaks to help with the conversion of the brick former E.M. Hager & Sons Co. Planing Mill building at 141 Elm St. – more recently, home to Spaghetti Warehouse and Sensation’Z nightclub – into a 44,000-square-foot mixed-use facility, with 10,000 square feet of office space and about 25 market-rate, loft-style apartments.
The $7 million project would include three two-level, two-bedroom units, 12 regular two-bedroom units and the rest as one-bedroom apartments. The ECIDA would own the property, leasing it back to the developer, which is seeking sales and mortgage tax breaks.
Finally, the ECIDA will consider the application for tax breaks for 500 Seneca St., where Savarino Cos. and FFZ Holdings plan a $35 million redevelopment of the F.N. Burt Co. factory. That hearing will be at 11 a.m.
Two days earlier, the ECIDA will hold separate hearings Jan. 6 at the Elma and West Seneca town halls, to review proposals by AMS Servicing LLC and Buffalo Geothermal, respectively.
AMS is planning capital improvements to its new facility at 611 Jamison Road, including finishing the expansion and buying machinery, equipment and other items. The company has applied to the ECIDA for sales and use tax breaks. That hearing will take place from 1 to 1:15 p.m. at 1600 Bowen Road in Elma.
Thirty minutes later, the ECIDA will hold a hearing in West Seneca at 1250 Union Road from 1:45 to 2 p.m. Buffalo Geothermal is seeking sales, mortgage recording and property tax breaks for its purchase of a 6.23-acre parcel of vacant land at 117 French Road, where it wants to build and equip an 11,500-square-foot building for the design, manufacture and installation of high-efficiency geothermal energy systems.
The facility will include 8,000 square feet of manufacturing space, 1,000 square feet of warehouse space, 1,000 square feet of research and development space, 1,200 square feet of office space and 300 square feet of retail space. The ECIDA will own the property and will lease it back to the company.
For all six projects, the ECIDA will take written comments through Jan. 28. The next agency board meeting after that is Jan. 29.