Another new motel for Niagara Falls and training centers for construction workers and bus drivers were among the new projects submitted to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday.
Also submitted was a request from First Niagara Bank for a sales tax break on new computer equipment, which was accepted despite criticism from IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma.
The agency's Project Review Committee unanimously accepted all the other applications for tax breaks, leading to public hearings next month on dates to be announced before the full IDA board votes on the plans.
A 73-room Motel 6 is to be built at Niagara Falls Boulevard and 91st Street in Niagara Falls, 10 blocks from a new 87-room Holiday Inn Express upon which the IDA board is expected to vote Thursday. Both projects are seeking 10-year property tax reductions.
The $3.6 million Motel 6 is to be built by Seven Group, owned by Paresh Patel of the Town of Tonawanda and Vinod Patel of Williamsville. Paresh Patel said he owned the Econo Lodge in downtown Niagara Falls from 1996 to 1999 and currently owns the Econo Lodge and the Crown Inn on Niagara Falls Boulevard in the Town of Tonawanda.
The Holiday Inn Express is to be owned by M&S Hotels, headed by Mohan S. Saran of Grand Island.
"Niagara Falls is a tourist area. There are very few new hotels in Niagara Falls," said Ram Patel, who said he is not related to Paresh Patel but was helping him make his presentation to the IDA. Ram Patel said he owns eight hotels in Western New York, including the Hampton Inn in Niagara Falls.
Sixteen jobs are to be created at the Motel 6 within the first two years, Ram Patel said.
Meanwhile, Laborers Local 91 unveiled plans for a 40,000-square-foot training center to be constructed on 18 acres of land in the IDA's Vantage International Pointe industrial park off Lockport Road in Wheatfield. The IDA board approved the sale of the land earlier this year.
Local 91 is a not-for-profit entity exempt from property taxes, but it must pay special district taxes, IDA Assistant Director Larry D. Witul said. There would be exemptions on sales tax for construction materials and mortgage recording taxes.
Dick Palladino, the union's director of training, said the $2 million facility also will be used by members of other building trades unions. It will include an outdoor training area that will be used in part to teach members how to operate backhoes and other heavy machinery.
Some of the trainees will visit from outside Western New York, Palladino said. He said another form of training will be for Niagara Falls Bridge Commission employees faced with a new type of scaffold currently installed beneath the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge. The new building will also include union offices, Palladino said. Three permanent new jobs will be created.
Ridge Road Express and Grand Island Transit plan to erect a $1.3 million, 4,800-square-foot training center for school bus drivers and aides beside the company's existing headquarters on Junction Road in Lockport. Owner R. Thomas Weeks, seeking a 10-year tax break, said state-mandated training courses for drivers and aides have to be held off-site because of a lack of space. The new building will not include bus maintenance facilities, he said. Ten or 11 part-time jobs are to be created.
Meanwhile, Sloma voted against a request from First Niagara for a sales tax exemption on $2.1 million worth of new equipment and renovations at its headquarters on South Transit Road in Pendleton. The building received a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, deal from the IDA 10 years ago; Sloma said that was enough aid.
"A fairly generous PILOT," Sloma called it. "I guess in '97 they were concerned about keeping the bank in Niagara County. . . . I'm just curious about where that all ends."
But Sloma was alone in his opposition to the sales tax break.
Edward H. Nickson, First Niagara's first vice president for facilities management, said First Niagara intends to install new emergency generators to back up the whole building, and will be buying 100 new computer servers for the data center. He said 240 people work at the corporate headquarters, and another 110 at First Niagara's main branch in downtown Lockport.
Also Wednesday, the committee approved a request from Barden & Robeson Corp. for an extension until 2009 on job goals the IDA set in 2004, when it granted a 15-year PILOT on the company's expanded plant in Middleport. A huge fire wrecked the prefabricated home company's factory in November and most of its work has been temporarily moved outside the area until it is rebuilt.