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Company seeks tax break for conversion of former Falls Walmart

WHEATFIELD – The former Sam’s Club and Walmart stores on Porter Road in Niagara Falls would be connected by new construction and turned into a giant warehouse with possible office or industrial space under a plan presented to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday.

Reger Holdings of West Seneca, which already owns the former Sam’s Club at 5535 Porter Road, plans to acquire the former Walmart next door and build a 60,000-square-foot structure to connect the two buildings. The result would be a structure covering nearly 316,000 square feet.

The only tenant in the former Walmart, Park Furniture, will move out after Reger acquires the building.

Joseph G. Armenia, Reger’s chief financial officer, confirmed the company intends to spend $1.8 million to buy the former Walmart from Niagara Building Supplies LLC.

The new construction is estimated to cost $3 million, and in all, counting the Walmart purchase, Reger is investing $9.75 million in the project.

Under the name of 5535 Porter LLC, the company is asking for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement, plus exemptions from Niagara County’s mortgage recording tax and from paying sales tax on building materials and furnishings.

The IDA staff estimated that those incentives would save the company almost $2.2 million over 15 years.

The company estimated that its project will create 23 jobs, even though its application says no tenants are committed to the space.

“In addition, significant site work, capital improvements and tenant improvements are needed to bring the properties to an acceptable level for tenancy. Depending on the user, this may include raising the roof of the 5555 Porter Road building,” the application for aid says. “Given these factors, the project will not be competitive or feasible in the marketplace without the financial assistance of the agency.”

There will need to be two public hearings on the project, because the border between the City of Niagara Falls and the Town of Niagara runs through the former Sam’s Club. The hearings will be held Aug. 8, at 3 p.m. in Room 117 of City Hall, 745 Main St., and 3:45 in Town Hall, 7105 Lockport Road. The IDA board is expected to vote on the deal Aug. 10.