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Poloncarz raises prospect of suing Clarence IDA

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz is threatening to sue the Clarence Industrial Development Agency for what he described as inappropriate approval of more than $100,000 in tax breaks for a Transit Road mixed-use project by Russell Salvatore Jr.

Poloncarz, in a letter to the Clarence agency, objected to the tax incentives for 6449 Transit Road because they were granted under the adaptive reuse provisions of the agency’s policies, but the entire site was demolished before construction began. A vacant residential home that previously existed on the site was leveled, and no structure was reused, he said.

“When you tear the structure down and remove everything associated with it, that is not the adaptive-reuse policy contemplated by Erie County and others,” Poloncarz told the Erie County IDA board Wednesday. “I was very disappointed to see the Clarence IDA give a tax break for a project when the entire site was demolished.”

The $2.5 million project is two-thirds residential and one-third retail in nature, which also does not qualify for incentives under common policies developed and adopted by all of the area’s IDAs, Poloncarz noted.

Lawrence M. Meckler, town attorney for Clarence, disagreed with Poloncarz. “As part of adaptive reuse, you can demolish a building if that’s necessary. Nothing in the regulations would disqualify demolition as adaptive reuse,” Meckler said. “… The question is, does it or doesn’t it qualify for incentives? And it absolutely qualifies. … We did everything by the book.”

Poloncarz said he does not object to the project itself. But it received $100,625 in sales and mortgage recording tax breaks – which affect not only the town but also the county, the school district, other area municipalities and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority – and Poloncarz said he would sue to recoup the lost revenues for the county.

“I’m hopeful they redo their decision,” Poloncarz said. “If not, I may take action as fiduciary for the people of Erie County.”

Salvatore is the grandson of legendary restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore, who owns Russell’s Steaks Chops & More in Lancaster, and son of Joseph A. Salvatore, who owns Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, also in Lancaster.

His project, known as the Abbey, is a 20,000-square-foot, two-story building on the east side of Transit, north of Old Post Road, with a mixture of eight two-bedroom luxury apartments and four retail spaces.

The 4.97-acre site has now been cleared, and foundations are being poured.

Salvatore said he hopes to finish by April or May of next year.

He declined to comment on Poloncarz’s objections.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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