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Doctor, Tops get tax breaks in Amherst

Projects to renovate a pair of Tops Friendly Markets and expand a Main Street doctor's office won sales tax breaks Friday through the Amherst Industrial Development Agency.

While none of the three projects normally would qualify for tax breaks under the eligibility policy followed by all development agencies in Erie County, the Amherst IDA was able to extend the nearly $175,000 in assistance because all the sites are located in redevelopment zones.

The redevelopment zones were created to encourage developers to renovate or upgrade buildings in eight designated areas, primarily along main business routes.

"It's not eliminating slums and blight, but we want to make sure it doesn't happen," said James Allen, the agency's executive director.

The IDA approved sales tax breaks of $157,500 for Tops to renovate a former Quality Markets at 5274 Main St. that it recently acquired from the bankrupt Penn Traffic Co. and another Tops in University Plaza.

Tops executives said sales have been declining at both stores, and they expressed hope that the renovations, valued at a total of $2.4 million, would help lure customers back.

The Main Street supermarket will not receive any property tax breaks.

The 26-year-old University Plaza supermarket already receives property tax incentives resulting from a renovation of the shopping center in 2000.

The agency also approved $15,750 in sales tax breaks for Dr. Robert LaMantia, who plans a $180,000 project to expand and upgrade his physician's office at 3911 Main St.

The project will replace an entrance ramp with a covered entrance that will include a wheelchair lift. It also will add two examination rooms, a work office and a billing office, as well as expanded parking.

LaMantia told the agency that the project would not be cost-effective without the tax breaks and that his only other option would be to move his office.

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