LOCKPORT – The city hopes to obtain a $500,000 state grant to pave the way for redevelopment of the vacant, century-old Tuscarora Club.
The three-story building on Walnut Street was foreclosed on by the city’s development agency in December 2014 after the last business there, a restaurant, defaulted on a loan and closed down.
For decades, the building, which has a 5,600-square-foot footprint, was Lockport’s most exclusive social club, but the club, founded in 1911, dwindled and shut down shortly before what would have been its centennial.
Brian M. Smith, city planning and development director, said Greater Lockport Development Corp., the city’s development agency, will have to come up with a $100,000 match if the state approves the application to the revived Restore New York program.
In June, Smart Design Architects of Batavia and Cheektowaga-based Lamparelli Construction Co. estimated that it would cost $1.58 million to make the building over into a restaurant on the first floor and 10 apartments on the second and third floors.
Smith told the Common Council, which endorsed the application Wednesday, that the price tag of redevelopment might be $1.7 million, including the demolition of a vacant house on the back part of the parcel, facing South Street. He said that will allow the property to include more parking, a lack of which has been a problem in redevelopment.
Smith said the eventual goal is to sell the property and get it back on the tax rolls. “In the condition it’s in now, no one is going to come in and say, ‘I want to put a restaurant here,’ or ‘I want to put apartments on the second and third floor,’ which is the long-term plan for that building,” Smith said.
Smith said $600,000 is enough to at least make the first floor viable again for a business use.
“It’s beyond me how in two years there can be a $1.7 million collapse of that building,” said Alderman R. Joseph O’Shaughnessy, D-at large, who voted against supporting the grant application.
“It’s a large building, and just because someone was in it doesn’t mean it was invested in,” Smith replied. “It is a beast of a property that needs investment.”
He said that there is mold on the first floor and in the basement. Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said, “There hasn’t been a dime put in the basement in 20 years. There hasn’t been anything done on the third floor.”
Also Wednesday, the Council approved a 30-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreement with DePaul Properties of Rochester, which is planning to build a three-story, 60-unit apartment complex to be called Packet Boat Landing at Elmwood Avenue and South Street.
The not-for-profit organization will pay $12,000 in the first year, a figure that will rise 2 percent a year thereafter.
The annual payments will be split up by the city, Niagara County and the Lockport City School District, based on their shares of the total tax rate. O’Shaughnessy voted no, saying he opposes the location of the project because he believes it will harm property values for nearby homes.
The apartments are to be rented to tenants whose incomes are low enough to qualify, with one-third of the spaces set aside for people being treated for mental illnesses.