Tops Markets next month plans to begin moving into its new headquarters in Amherst, and the company said it plans to meet its hiring targets there in spite of its recent bankruptcy filing.
Tops officials announced in January 2017 that the company would consolidate its administrative functions at 1760 Wehrle Drive, the College Park complex near Erie Community College North Campus owned by Zaepfel Development Co.
Tops, which filed for reorganizational bankruptcy last month, now has employees at 30 Spindrift and 75 Earhart drives in Amherst.
Tops is moving into space formerly occupied by PHH Mortgage. The Amherst Industrial Development Agency in 2012 granted the 1760 Wehrle development up to $4.55 million in tax incentives, including an estimated $2.5 million in property tax savings over a 10-year period.
PHH Mortgage once had 400 workers in the building, and pledged to hire 400 more, but steadily cut its local workforce and finished moving out of the complex last summer.
The IDA in January 2017 approved a sublease agreement that replaced PHH Mortgage with Tops and allowed the property tax breaks to carry over to the grocery chain.
Tops will have 300 employees in the building once it moves in, matching the figure it gave the IDA, said spokeswoman Kathleen Romanowski.
The company had told the agency it would add five employees to that headcount within two years. Tops CEO Frank Curci, going further, had told The Buffalo News the company would hire 40 additional employees within a year or two of opening its new space.
Romanowski said Tuesday that the company still expects to reach 305 employees there within two years.
Neither PHH nor Tops would face financial consequences for failing to meet employment promises.
The state's clawback provision didn't take effect until 2016, well after the IDA approved the deal with PHH, said David S. Mingoia, the IDA's executive director. And because the IDA didn't approve new tax breaks for Tops, the company isn't subject to the provision, Mingoia said.
Tops has not met its initial timeline for moving into the building. Company officials had said employees would start moving into 1760 Wehrle last summer and finish the move by this spring.
Romanowski said construction took longer than expected, delaying the start of the move. She said the company is completing interior work now.
"We finished out space on the first floor and did some general modifications of the space to fit our needs," Romanowski said, declining to provide the cost of the renovations.
The company expects to start the move into the leased space after Easter and to finish it by late May.
The start of the move would come five weeks after Tops Markets filed for reorganizational bankruptcy to try to reduce its debt burden and improve its competitve position.
Tops on Feb. 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City in an effort to escape the $80 million in annual interest payments the company owes on its more than $720 million in debt it has accumulated since 2007.