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Tax incentives sought for hotel at Batavia Downs

BATAVIA – At a venue where speed takes the prize, employees and directors of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. are hoping for some expedited action from the county’s industrial development agency to keep the construction schedule of a $7 million hotel at Batavia Downs on track.

Michael P. Nolan, chief operating officer of WROTB, speaking during a break in his organization’s board of directors meeting Thursday, said receiving tax incentives from the Genesee County Economic Development Corp. is the final hurdle in the approval process.

“The town of Batavia granted seven variances and the town Planning Board is on board with the (State Environmental Quality Review) for division of the land and the site plan,” Nolan said. Now all that remains is for the economic development agency to approve a tax benefit package for the hotel owners.

The economic development agency is expected to consider the request at its next meeting on June 4.

The track’s 70-date racing season opens July 27 and construction of the 80-room, four-story hotel is set to begin before then. Crews have started demolition work in the paddock area.

WROTB, operators of the harness horse racing track, sold 35,000 square feet of its property in March to ADK Hospitality, a partnership of Buffalo investors Anthony J. Baynes, founder and owner of Extra Mile Transportation LLC; Kent Frey, president of Frey Electric Construction Co.; attorney David McNamara of Phillips Lytle LP; and neurologist Dr. Laszlo L. Mechtler of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

The sale price was $605,000. ADK’s plan is to erect the hotel by the end of the year.

Nolan said the hotel is needed for Batavia Downs to remain viable in the entertainment business.

“If we want to stay competitive in the gaming market, there has to be a hotel here,” he said, adding that ADK gave 365 free room nights per year to the Downs for promotional purposes.

Michael D. Kane, CEO of WROTB, said the state Gaming Commission has approved the demolition of the paddock where the hotel will be located and the use of the remaining paddock, with the cooperation of the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association.

He noted that for up to the next two years, the paddock will be a four-race paddock.

Nolan said that he has met with local hotel owners to let them know that “we’re looking for a different customer.”

In other business, the board:

• Voted to contract with Nelson Financial Services of Phoenix as its broker of record for all insurance policies except for worker compensation, for one year, effective June 1, at a cost of $48,500, and to end contracts with Commercial Insurance Consultants and Marsh & McLennan.

• Reported that wagers through its online horse betting service have increased by 35 percent since last May.