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Golf course, condos win IDA assistance Projects in Lewiston, Niagara Falls receive $70.6 million in property, sales tax breaks

A championship public golf course in Lewiston and a proposed luxury hotel and condominium complex in Niagara Falls won approval and total tax breaks of $70.6 million Thursday from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

The proposed $171 million hotel received the lion's share -- $61 million in property tax savings over 10 years, plus $8.5 million in sales and mortgage tax abatements, said Larry D. Witul, the development agency's assistant director.

The $19 million Hickory Stick Golf Course will receive $1.1 million in property tax breaks, plus up to $522,000 in sales and mortgage tax savings over five years, he said.

The 18-hole golf course is a project of the Seneca Management Development Corp., an arm of the Seneca Nation that owns the casino and hotel in Niagara Falls.

Construction of the golf course -- on 250 acres of Seneca land bounded by the Robert Moses Parkway, Raymond Drive and Creek and Pletcher roads -- is scheduled to begin soon and be completed next spring. The project will include a driving range, pro shop and a club house available for dining, banquets, meetings and special events.

The Seneca Nation sees the golf course as a natural extension of its downtown Niagara Falls casino and hotel, especially for gamblers who stay several days at the hotel, said Philip J. Pantano, casino spokesman.

Gary Taumen, the project manager with 30 years of experience in golf course design, described the course as "Arnold Palmer caliber."

The course -- the first Seneca development outside the nation's sovereign territory -- would have an economic impact on the Buffalo Niagara region of more than $4 million in the first year alone, Seneca officials estimated.

Work will resolve a drainage issue that has plagued the area for many years, said Rajat Shah, senior vice president of the development company. Water from Four Mile Creek will be diverted to man-made lakes on the golf course property.

Henry M. Sloma, the development agency's chairman and the owner of a nearby house, noted that his vote for the project had nothing to do with benefiting from better drainage.

A public hearing on the golf course will be held May 18 in Lewiston Town Hall.

The 25-story hotel, proposed by Rio Vista, a company in Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., is to be built at 1001 Buffalo Ave. at 10th Street in the city's South End. The condominiums will be sold to individual buyers.

The property, which was purchased in 1994 from Moore Business Forms, most recently had been used by Promex Medical, an equipment firm that closed more than a year ago.

No one showed up at the public hearing on the project, held Tuesday in Niagara Falls. No construction date has been set.

The county development agency also approved $538,000 in sales and mortgage tax exemptions for a $19.8 million housing project on Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn, for students at Niagara County Community College.

e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com

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