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E. Side dollar store plan gets ECIDA tax breaks

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency on Monday approved $60,000 in sales tax and mortgage-recording tax breaks for developer David E. Pawlik's plan to build a new Dollar General store in Buffalo on the site of a former East Side gas station.

Pawlik, whose Creative Structures Services recently completed a $1.5 million conversion of a former church into apartments, is seeking to demolish a former Noco gas station and build a 10,640-square-foot, single-story Dollar General at 1055 Genesee St., at Fillmore Avenue. The building has been vacant for several years.

The $1.43 million adaptive-reuse project includes $230,000 to buy the property, $1.1 million in building construction costs and $100,000 in "soft costs."

The ECIDA approved $48,000 in sales tax breaks and up to $12,000 in mortgage tax savings, with an additional unspecified property tax savings through a state program.

The property has already been cleaned by Noco Energy Corp. through the state Department of Environmental Conservation's brownfields cleanup program and is now ready for development.

Plans call for the business, which will be leased to the national retailer, to employ 10 full-time and five part-time workers and to generate more than $522,321 annually through wages and sales, including $225,060 in payroll.

The 10 full-time jobs will support 2.5 spinoff jobs in the county, pay $3,246 in annual sales tax and support $3,991 in property taxes every year, according to an ECIDA analysis used to support the proposal. Fourteen construction jobs also will be created.

There already is a Rite Aid drugstore across the street from the proposed Dollar General, and another dollar-store business, Family Dollar, sits about a half-mile away at Best and Genesee streets. But ECIDA officials said that there is enough demand to support two such businesses in the area, despite skepticism expressed by ECIDA board member and Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, D-Buffalo.

"I think it's important to do this. If you can get someone that's willing to clean it up, let's do it," said ECIDA Chairman Philip C. Ackerman.

IDAs are allowed under state laws and regulations to help retail projects, but the county's tax-exemption policy limits such support to capital investments in highly distressed areas. It also requires a letter of support or request from the top elected official in that municipality, in this case provided by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown.

"The overriding factor, to me, is the jobs," Brown said during the meeting. "I think it's important for the city that these jobs be created and that this be supported."

Pawlik, co-founder and president of CSS, was part of the development team that turned the former North Park Presbyterian Church at 700 Parkside Ave. into a residential complex, also with ECIDA help.

In a separate matter, the board approved an extension until March 15 of the closing date for the Enterprise Charter School's purchase of its portion of the property that it shares with the ECIDA.

In other business at Monday's 30-minute meeting, board members reviewed the agency's 2010 work, including "inducements," or tax breaks, for 25 projects that totaled $143.3 million in economic-development investments. The projects ranged from food production to biotechnology research to housing and are expected to support about 4,500 existing jobs and create 600 new ones over two years.

Additionally, Industrial Land Development Corp., the ECIDA's lending division, provided support for $81.8 million in six new projects that are expected to retain 5,760 jobs and create 458 new ones. Among those projects are capital-improvement initiatives at Buffalo State, Canisius and Medaille colleges, as well as a mixed-use building at the former Kane Doyle Jeep property on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore and another building in the Buffalo's Larkin District.

Finally, the agency's affiliate entities closed five loans for $1.1 million in December, with six more pending at year's end for $1.16 million and six more in the pipeline for $1.17 million.

"It was quite a productive year for the ECIDA, the ILDC and the many Erie County companies we've assisted," said Ackerman, former chairman of National Fuel Gas Co. in Amherst. "We look forward to more growth and even more investment in the next 12 months."

Meanwhile, the ECIDA received a $156,000 tax bill from the state, under a tax imposed on all IDAs by the Legislature, CEO Alfred D. Culliton told the board. The initial tax method had been thrown out by a state court but was modified and reinstated. Culliton said officials are working with IDAs statewide to determine whether to go to court again, noting that IDA lawyers believe that it's unconstitutional for the state to essentially tax itself.

"It will put smaller IDAs out of business," Culliton said, "and it's only going to take a couple of negative years to put even the larger IDAs out of business."

e-mail: jepstein@buffnews.com

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