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Two firms get tax incentives in Amherst

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency gave the green light Friday to a plan by the owner of Stereo Advantage to move its Lifetime Service business from South Union Road to a new 20,000-square-foot facility on Wehrle Drive.

The IDA approved a $1 million lease transaction for The Advantage Co. to build a 20,000-square-foot addition to its distribution facility at 1955 Wehrle Drive. That site will house the Lifetime Service Center now located at 52 Union Road in Williamsville, which was originally built in 1989 but can no longer accommodate the company's growing national business.

AIDA officials said the expansion will make the company more efficient and competitive, allowing them to retain and expand its customer base, while keeping 55 jobs and creating seven new positions. IDA assistance will help keep the costs down.

The company has already received inquiries about the Union Road building, and will either sell it or develop it as commercial rental space.

The agency approved a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program, with the company paying $648,628 in property taxes during the period, while saving $31,500 in sales taxes, $203,243 in property taxes and $10,000 in mortgage recording taxes.

The IDA also approved a $275,000 "installment sale transaction" for DiCamillo Bakery of Niagara Falls to renovate and equip a 150-year-old building on Main Street near Union Road in Williamsville into a retail store. DiCamillo, which already has four locations, said it needs the new store to widen its geographic reach to new markets in Erie County because its existing markets are shrinking, aging, and becoming impoverished.

It's counting on the location near the airport and easy access from the I-290 to draw travelers who know the brand from products sold nationally. And it says the new store will allow it to boost production at its main plant closer to its capacity.

DiCamillo had originally planned to do the work without IDA assistance because the early estimates of savings wouldn't have made up for the agency's fees. But the building is in such bad shape that the costs of the project far exceeded expectations, making agency help sensible.

Already, the company has replaced the roof, rebuilt at least two brick corners, replaced all windows and doors, poured a new concrete floor, rewired the building, and installed new plumbing. Masonry, paving and landscaping work are still planned, in addition to setting up the store itself.

The bakery could have demolished the old building and constructed a new one, but wanted to save the historic site, a desire that the agency shares, said Amherst IDA executive director James Allen. "We're looking at it as a redevelopment of an old building, and that's worth a little bit of an incentive," he said.

Eighteen new jobs will be created. The company may get a tax exemption because it's in a town enhancement zone, but will otherwise get only $14,000 in sales tax savings.

Finally, officials are allowing International Imaging Materials (IIMAK) on Commerce Drive to transfer the lease of its property to W.P. Carey & Co. LLC, with IIMAK in turn leasing it from Carey. The goal is to use the proceeds of the sale to pay down debt from a 2000 leveraged buyout and then invest in new equipment and research.

The maker and distributor of thermal ink transfer ribbons has been at the site since 1984, and employs 435, down from a height of about 700 because of changes in its industry. It has already done several transactions with the Amherst IDA.

There will not be additional property tax savings, but the company, which also asked permission for Carey to get a mortgage of up to $18 million, will save up to $180,000 in mortgage taxes. However, the agency also approved reducing its regular transaction fee from $180,000 to $52,000 because the company isn't getting much in tax benefits and the deal wouldn't make financial sense otherwise.

Separately, the agency also approved a request by Temple Shaarey Zedek to refinance a 1999 $3.1 million tax-exempt bond issued for the construction of a three-story, 59-unit senior housing complex for low-income people on Hartford Road. The bond will be refinanced for $2.34 million.

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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