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Niagara IDA approves tax break for new plastics factory in Falls

WHEATFIELD – A tax break for a new factory for a Niagara Falls plastics company was approved Wednesday by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency, but whether the project will be built depends on state incentives.

That’s according to Ronald A. Chapin of Brightfields Corp., which was granted a 15-year tax abatement by the IDA board.

Brightfields cleaned up a former toxic waste site next door to the Highland Avenue plant of Tulip Corp., whose Wisconsin-based owners are looking for a new factory to replace the existing one, which is more than a century old.

The IDA board was told last month there was a chance the company, which employs 70 people, might move out of state.

Brightfields, owned by Niagara Falls businessman Jon M. Williams, suggested the construction of a 70,000-square-foot, $11.7 million factory on the site of a former battery plant that closed in the 1970s.

Brightfields would lease the plant to Tulip and take advantage of the IDA’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement that would save it nearly $1.9 million over the 15-year life of the deal, based on IDA staff estimates. It also would acquire Tulip’s current plant, tear it down and remediate it as a brownfield.

Chapin said that there is a state component to the deal, reported last month as a $2 million reimbursement to Tulip of its costs to lease the new factory and that Empire State Development has yet to approve it. “We’re very hopeful,” he said. “It’s up to the state.”

Brightfields invested $17 million in the remediation under the state brownfields cleanup program.

In another unfinished deal, the IDA board voted, 7-2, to grant a six-month extension of the deadline for the developers of apartments in a former Lewiston nursing home to close on the PILOT that the IDA granted them last year.

The clock would have run out next month on 765 Fairchild Place LLC, IDA counsel Mark J. Gabriele said. The company’s plan for redevelopment of the old Fairchild Manor Nursing Home has yet to be approved by the village. Deputy Village Clerk Melody L. Griffith said the company has not presented an actionable plan to the Planning and Zoning Board. Approvals are needed there and from the Village Board, she said.

IDA board members Michael W. McNally and Joseph A. Jastrzemski voted against the extension, as they did a year ago against the original 15-year PILOT for the company, headed by James F. Jerge of Orchard Park.

“If they’re going to build housing like this at market rates, they should use their own money,” said Jastrzemski, the Wilson town supervisor and Republican nominee for county clerk.

Also Wednesday, the IDA board gave final approval to a 10-year PILOT for the Shah family, owners of the Budget Host Motel on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Niagara Falls, to add a second story and increase the room count from 30 to 60. The tax abatement on the $2.8 million project will save the company an estimated $237,000 and help create the equivalent of five new full-time jobs.

The board also approved the transfer of a PILOT on the Western New York Urology Associates center in Cambria to Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., which is buying the building at 3850 Saunders Settlement Road and keeping the urology practice as the tenant. The 15-year PILOT was approved by the IDA in March 2011 and required the creation of 26 jobs.

Gabriele and IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma warned James M. Gottstine, Ciminelli’s chief operating officer, that the job count must be maintained or the PILOT could be revoked. Gabriele suggested that Ciminelli could make that a condition of Western New York Urology’s lease on the building.