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Montante Group seeks incentives for Niagara Falls redevelopment project

Montante Group, a Town of Tonawanda development firm, has applied for tax incentives to assist a nearly $5 million makeover of three derelict buildings near the corner of Seventh and Niagara streets in Niagara Falls.

The renovation will include a new headquarters for the Niagara Global Tourism Institute, as well as other commercial space on the ground floor, with 17 market-rate apartments on the second and third floors. The plan also calls for a gated parking lot and a new 1,500-square-foot atrium.

Company spokesman Byron DeLuke said Friday that Montante is working on a request to obtain a property tax abatement from the city. The firm also intends to pursue state and federal historic preservation tax credits for the three buildings, which were erected between 1908 and 1912.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency has received an application from the company to be exempted from paying sales taxes on construction materials and building furnishings and from mortgage recording taxes on the 11 parcels, most of them vacant lots. The city sold the parcels to Montante for $20,000 in December.

The NCIDA board will hear a presentation on the request Wednesday.

Montante hopes for $1.3 million in historic tax credits. It has a $675,000 grant in hand from Empire State Development. The company intends to obtain $2.6 million in bank financing and will invest $300,000 of its own.

"We're still optimistic we'll be able to get to construction late this spring or early this summer," DeLuke said.

The plan is first to finish the space for the tourism institute, an affiliate of Niagara University, so it can move in early next year. The whole project should take 10 to 12 months to complete, DeLuke said.

A second phase along Seventh Street, not part of the current project and not covered by the incentives now being sought, could include town homes and perhaps some commercial ground-floor space, DeLuke said.

Montante was chosen last July as the developer after the city issued a request for proposals. The buildings at 610, 614 and 624 Niagara St. will offer 9,600 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, most of which is earmarked for the tourism institute. There also will be a coffee shop at the corner of Seventh and Niagara.

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