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Amherst? IDA OKs? tax breaks; Plan aids 2 nonprofits?in Kadimah building

The Amherst Industrial Development Agency on Friday approved nearly $123,000 in tax breaks for a project that will allow the Center for Handicapped Children to move to a building it will share with the Kadimah School of Buffalo on Eggert Road.

Under the $2.2 million project, the struggling Kadimah School will sell its building at 1085 Eggert Road to a developer, Zaepfel Development, which then will lease the property to the Center for Handicapped Children, which will be moving from its current location at 80 Lawrence Bell Drive.

Because a commercial developer is acquiring the Eggert Road building, which currently pays no property taxes and slightly less than $1,200 in special district taxes since it is owned by a not-for-profit school, it will return to the tax rolls and generate nearly $508,000 in additional tax revenue for Amherst, Erie County and the Amhest Central School District over the next 10 years, even with the tax breaks, IDA officials said.

"It helps out two not-for-profits," said Richard Villonen, the IDA's chairman. "It takes a specialized building – a school – and puts in on the tax rolls."

By moving to the 32,400-square-foot Kadimah building, the Center for Handicapped Children, which provides services for children with multiple disabilities, will be able to expand its operations, compared with its current 14,000-square-foot facility. The center, which serves students from 23 area school districts, currently employs 57 full-time teachers and staff members, along with three part-time employees. It expects to add 11 full-time jobs through the expansion.

The Kadimah School, a community Jewish day school founded in 1959, is selling the building after seeing its enrollment – currently 41 students – decline by about half over the past two years because of demographic, financial and other factors, making it financially unfeasible to remain the owner and sole occupant of the Eggert Road building. It will lease back one wing of the building for its classes, which include both secular and Judaic studies, and will share facilities with Center for Handicapped Children.

"This is a perfect example of adaptive reuse," said James J. Allen, the IDA's executive director.

The IDA also voiced its support for the revised hotel incentive policy adopted Wednesday by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The new hotel policy would limit incentives only to hotels that are built or renovated in conjunction with a convention center, conference center or a major regional attraction. It also would permit aid to hotel projects that meet the IDA's adaptive reuse policy, which encourages renovation of vacant buildings.

But the IDA policy also includes an amendment to the original proposal that permits incentives for new hotels and renovation projects that are part of a neighborhood enhancement area, which are portions of a community that are being targeted for development. That includes much of the City of Buffalo and key portions of some suburbs, such as the majority of the Main Street corridor in Williamsville and a stretch of Sheridan Drive in Amherst between Niagara Falls Boulevard and the Youngmann Highway.

"We're fairly comfortable with it," Allen said.

The Erie County IDA had sought to revise its hotel policy after imposing a moratorium on hotel projects this spring after the controversial decision in March to grant an estimated $275,000 in tax breaks for a $5.5 million renovation project at the Millennium Hotel in Cheektowaga. Some objected to granting tax breaks to a profitable business.?