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Summit mall owner forfeits tax break as plans for sports domes change

Plans for two inflatable sports domes behind The Summit — a mostly vacant Wheatfield shopping mall — have changed, and the owner will lose a tax break granted by the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

Mall manager Cynthia Potts said Tuesday that owner Zoran Cocov decided to erect metal buildings instead of the inflatable domes because of security concerns that arose after three teenagers were charged with breaking into the mall and vandalizing it July 4.

"The building would be so vulnerable as an inflated building that he didn't want to take the risk and make that kind of investment, to have someone come in with a sharp knife or an object or anything that might contribute to the deflation of those buildings," Potts said.

Cocov never closed on the incentive package he was granted in April, and if he wants incentives for the altered sports facilities, he will have to reapply, NCIDA project manager Susan C. Langdon said.

Potts said the mall also is giving up a low-cost electricity allocation from the county Empower Niagara program, because not having to keep the roofs inflated will save on power needs.

The cost of the two 96,000-square-foot buildings also will increase, Potts said. The original cost listed in the mall's IDA application was $7.3 million.

Wheatfield Town Engineer Timothy J. Zuber said the buildings' locations have been altered slightly, so Cocov will have to start from scratch in obtaining Planning Board approval and a height variance for the 75-foot-tall structures.

Zuber said the move places one of the buildings partially on a wetland, thus requiring a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Summit mall owner seeks tax breaks for planned sports domes

Potts said new approvals also will be needed from the Federal Aviation Administration, because of the buildings' height, and from the town Fire Advisory Board.

"We were so close to having a shovel in the ground, I can't believe we're going back to square one," Potts said. "It's really putting us back another year."

Cocov, of Brampton, Ont., bought the mall in 2014 and also owns 570 acres of land around the mall.

The buildings are to contain fields and courts for baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball.

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