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Clarence IDA rejects tax breaks for Russell Salvatore Jr. project

Russell Salvatore Jr.’s request for a property tax break for his $2.5 million development of stores and luxury apartments in Clarence was rejected Thursday.

The Clarence Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors voted 5-0 to deny Salvatore’s bid for incentives for his project at 6449 Transit Road, known as the Abbey.

Salvatore constructed a two-story, 20,000-square-foot building, on a 5-acre parcel just north of Old Post Road, that has a mix of eight, two-bedroom luxury apartments and four retail spaces. Tenants include Rebel Ride, a cycling studio; Tacos, Community & Beer; and Village Designs, a clothing store.

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

Salvatore in 2016 received just over $100,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks from the Clarence IDA.

The agency’s board approved the retail project under its adaptive reuse policies, even though a former structure had been torn down.

That sparked a fight with Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who said the action violated countywide policies.

The IDA board in 2016 did not grant a property tax break for the project. Salvatore had thought the project qualified for a different tax break that would provide similar benefits.

Salvatore requested that tax break through the Clarence Assessor’s Office, but town Assessor Albert Weber determined it didn’t qualify because of the project’s residential component.

Salvatore returned to the IDA this spring to apply for property tax breaks, and Poloncarz again raised objections to the request.

Poloncarz objects – again – to tax breaks for Russell Salvatore Jr.

“Tax incentives are appropriate for projects that need such assistance to succeed,” Poloncarz said in an email Thursday. “And while that was not the case here, I also commend Mr. Salvatore for completing The Abbey in the absence of such incentives.”

The younger Salvatore did not return a message seeking comment on the denial. Neither he nor his attorney attended Thursday morning’s IDA board meeting. He wants to add eight town houses, with garages, at the site. That proposal is under review by town officials.

Paul Leone, a consultant to the Clarence IDA, said he could not provide the value of the requested tax breaks and said the IDA board voted without having that information.

Christopher Kempton, the chairman of the IDA board, also did not return a message seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

The property is assessed at $1.74 million, Weber said. The building, which is the only portion eligible for a property tax break, is assessed at $960,000.

The tax break Salvatore sought would provide 50 percent off his school, county and town property tax bill in the first year, 45 percent off in the second year, and so on until Salvatore must pay the full bill, Leone said.

Salvatore would have saved about $13,000 the first year, about $12,300 the second year and so on until the agreement expired, Weber said.


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