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Niagara IDA joins effort to keep Tulip Corp. in the Falls

WHEATFIELD – The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency and Empire State Development are part of an effort to keep Tulip Corp. from moving out of Niagara Falls.

The IDA received an application Wednesday from Brightfields Corp., owner of a vacant brownfield next to the Tulip plant on Highland Avenue, seeking a 15-year tax break on a new factory for the plastics company, which employs 70 people.

In an $11.7 million project, Brightfields, a Buffalo company headed by Jon Williams, would construct the new 70,000-square-foot factory on a seven-acre site and lease it to Tulip. Brightfields then would acquire Tulip’s current plant, tear it down and remediate the site, which has environmental problems of its own, according to Andrew Cappello, an accountant for Brightfields.

Ronald A. Chapin of Brightfields said the deal isn’t firm yet, as the company is competing with Indianapolis interests for Tulip’s business.

“Tulip is either going to stay or move to someplace closer to their headquarters. It’s owned by a private equity firm from Wisconsin,” Chapin told the IDA board. “They are very sincere about doing this here, or somewhere.”

In addition to the IDA’s 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement, Cappello said Empire State Development is considering a $2 million reimbursement of Tulip’s leasing costs for the new factory. Chapin said the lease could be for 10, 15 or 20 years. The PILOT would save the company nearly $1.9 million in property, sales and mortgage taxes over 15 years. The company would be exempted from paying sales tax on building materials or new equipment.

The site of the proposed new factory is called Tract I by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which supervised a $17 million remediation that Chapin said is just now concluding with the application of a new soil cap. Brightfields also owns the adjoining Tract II, another hazardous waste site that is now being capped, according to Chapin.

He said Tulip, whose history in the Falls dates back to 1910, is unable to move in new manufacturing equipment because of its deteriorating plant, which has wooden floors.

“I’ve toured the plant. It has zero efficiency,” Chapin said.

The IDA is to schedule a public hearing sometime in the next four weeks and likely will vote on the deal July 8. IDA attorney Mark J. Gabriele said if the PILOT is granted and the Tulip deal falls through, Brightfields would have a PILOT on the vacant Tract I, which would be of no value unless it found another tenant that could keep Tulip’s job promises – 70 retained jobs and six new ones.

“Vacant lots are taxed at 100 percent,” Gabriele said. The PILOT would be canceled if Brightfields failed to find another tenant.

In other matters Wednesday, the IDA board approved:

• A 15-year PILOT for Original Pizza Logs, building a new $3.1 million plant in the Vantage International Pointe industrial park off Lockport Road in Wheatfield, controlled by the IDA. The project is to add 11 full-time equivalent jobs to the company’s current 19.

• A 10-year PILOT for Bulldog Business Park on Cory Drive in Wheatfield, a new multi-tenant development owned by Joseph Paolini, owner of the Niagara Business Park on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield. The three new 4,000-square-foot buildings will cost $320,000.

• A $200,000 loan to NY Beer Project, a microbrewery and restaurant now under construction on South Transit Road in Lockport. The $3.4 million project previously received a PILOT from the Town of Lockport IDA. The loan is for 5½ years at 2.6 percent interest, and is to be used for equipment purchases by owners Kevin and Kelly Krupski of Lockport.

• The sale of 3 acres of Vantage land for $19,500 to the Greater Niagara Falls Church of God, which is located in front of the industrial park and plans to expand its building in two or three years.