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Tax breaks sought for student housing, banquet facility and hotel projects in Niagara Falls

Developers are seeking tax breaks for three projects in Niagara Falls, including the redevelopment of a convicted pain doctor's medical office.

The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency received their applications Wednesday. In all, the tax breaks would total nearly $2 million.

• Penn Terra of Mississauga, Ont., has presented a $5.63 million plan to construct a four-story building, with units available at market rates, for students at Niagara County Community College's Culinary Institute or Niagara University. During the summer, the 36 apartments would be rented as hotel rooms.

Penn Terra is the city's preferred developer for the Cannon Block at Main and Third streets.

The site once contained the office of Dr. Pravin V. Mehta, known as "Dr. Feel Good" because of what federal prosecutors called his indiscriminate distribution of prescriptions for painkillers. Mehta lost his practice and served two years in federal prison after his 2011 arrest.

The city acquired the property after federal prosecutors forced Mehta to forfeit it. The city sought proposals in 2017 and chose Penn Terra.

Parking would be available, with plans calling for the old building, dating from 1895, to be demolished, NCIDA Chairman Stephen F. Brady said.

Penn Terra requested a 15-year tax abatement including reduced property taxes, an exemption from paying sales tax on building materials and furnishings, and an exemption from paying Niagara County's mortgage recording tax.

In all, the NCIDA estimates the incentives would save the developer $1.12 million over 15 years. Six full-time management jobs would be created and 35 part-time maintenance and housekeeping employees would be sought from independent contractors.

• The Patel family, owners of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in the Falls, plans to open a banquet facility at 24 Buffalo Ave., with a rooftop bar and virtual reality gaming rooms in the basement. The Niagara Club had been at the site as a venue for fancy events for 95 years until it closed in 1996.

The Patels acquired the site in 2009 and operated an Indian restaurant there until last year.

The NCIDA gave the project a $151,760 grant from its Tourism Target Zone Fund in August.

The Patels requested a 10-year break on property, sales and mortgage recording taxes that would save them $383,000, according to NCIDA calculations. The equivalent of 20 full-time jobs would be created in the $3 million project.

• Babu and Pragna Patel, under the name of Rupal Corp., also own the former EconoLodge at 200 Rainbow Blvd., and plan to spend $4.17 million to convert it into a 54-room upscale boutique hotel. That's 10 more rooms than the EconoLodge had.

The 10-year tax break they seek would save the company $484,000 while creating three new jobs, the NCIDA calculated.

The NCIDA will schedule public hearings on all three projects, and its board is expected to vote on the requests on Feb. 13.

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