The Amherst Industrial Development Agency adopted new guidelines for senior housing projects after its moratorium on tax breaks for those developments expired.
The new guidelines, adopted Friday, provide a framework for senior housing projects that could come before the board until a common policy for all of Erie County’s IDAs, now under negotiation, is adopted.
The Amherst IDA’s guidelines would give preference to senior housing projects that are located in a redevelopment or enhancement zone within the town and are accessible to public transportation. The agency’s criteria also favor projects that are located in a part of the town that could serve lower-income residents whose income is 60 percent to 80 percent of the county’s median income.
Other criteria include whether the project is part of an adaptive reuse project that would help revive a building that has long been vacant or underused, and whether amenities such as grocery stores and medical services are available within walking distance. The project also must be in line with either the town or Village of Williamsville’s comprehensive plan.
The IDA had imposed a moratorium on senior housing projects last June after a study by the Regional Institute at the University at Buffalo 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.
IDA officials adopted the temporary guidelines because of concern that they would be asked to provide tax breaks for senior housing projects before a countywide policy was developed.
David Mingoia, the IDA’s deputy director, said a proposed senior housing project would not necessarily have to meet all of the criteria to obtain tax breaks, but the decision would be at the discretion of the agency’s board.
The IDA imposed the moratorium shortly 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.