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YMCA seeks tax-exempt bonds to help finance new Lockport facility

WHEATFIELD - The YMCA Buffalo Niagara applied Wednesday to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for up to $9.7 million in tax-exempt bonding authority to pay for construction of a new YMCA in the Town of Lockport.

"It'll be a 52,000-square-foot building on a 31-acre parcel that has endless possibilities for the future," said Matthew J. Shriver, chief financial officer of the YMCA.

The YMCA has raised $10 million in donations, but much of that came in the form of pledges, not cash, and the YMCA needs up-front capital to pay for construction, Shriver said.

If the IDA approves the bonding authority, the bonds would be a debt of the YMCA, not the IDA or the county.

The IDA board scheduled a public hearing on the bond deal for 3 p.m. May 1 in Lockport Town Hall. The board is likely to vote on the bonding authority at its May 10 meeting.

The project has a $17 million construction budget, Shriver said.

"I'm hoping that it will come in closer to $15 million," he said.

According to the YMCA's application, it intends to take out a $450,000 bank loan for the Lockport project. The YMCA also asked the IDA for a mortgage tax exemption that would save it an estimated $100,000.

Six full-time and 17 part-time employees now work at the existing Lockport YMCA. The YMCA promises to add seven full-time and 12 part-time jobs after the new facility opens.

Also Wednesday, the IDA granted a tax incentive package for the construction of a pair of 96,000-square-foot inflatable sports domes to be erected this year behind the largely vacant Summit mall on Williams Road in Wheatfield. The domes would include fields and courts for soccer, baseball, volleyball and basketball.

The $7.3 million project is part of a major effort to revive the shopping center as a destination for local athletes and diners. The mall's owner, Zoran Cocov, a Canadian developer, also plans to build a microbrewery and pub at the mall.

The Town of Wheatfield is applying for a $750,000 state grant that would be turned over to Cocov's Big Thunder Brewing Co. as a major portion of the financing for the $3.3 million brewery and pub project.

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