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Conversion of Immaculata Academy property wins tax breaks

Developer Anthony Cutaia won a major boost for his plan to turn the former Immaculata Academy property on South Park Avenue into apartments after the Hamburg Industrial Development Agency approved about $3 million in tax breaks that will carry the $26.7 million project over its financial hurdles.

Cutaia's Rane Development wants to convert the school building at 5138 South Park into the Oaks at South Park, with 152 apartments – of which 15 will be considered affordable housing. The development, which is slated to be completed by December 2020, will also feature a large community room, gymnasium and in-ground pool, among other amenities for tenants.

The IDA awarded $1.85 million in property tax breaks through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes spread over seven years, plus mortgage recording and sales tax breaks.

The IDA said the project will generate about $3.8 million in additional local taxes, while creating 171 temporary construction jobs and the equivalent of seven full-time positions. Construction is expected to begin in July.

“This is an excellent adaptive reuse of a vacant building, eliminating blight, environmental hazards and code compliance faults” said Hamburg IDA Executive Director Sean Doyle. “Our partnership with Rane Development will finally return this parcel to productive use and complement our tax rolls. This living community will be a great addition to the growing township.”

Immaculata Academy closed in June 2016 after 88 years in operation because of dwindling enrollment and the age of the nuns. The school had 180 students in its final year, after educating more than 4,200 girls during its history.

Cutaia in May bought the 27-acre property – including the 46,500-square-foot former school building erected in 1952 – for $1.55 million. That was two months after the town Planning Board approved his project for a new housing development.

After the site is cleaned up, plans call for a series of 19 two-story buildings, each with eight units per building, while a portion of the vacant former school would be converted into a community center or clubhouse. Also included are stormwater ponds, open space for residents, a bike path and walking trails, 566 new trees and 988 new shrubs, as well as baseball and softball fields for neighbor Hilbert College.

Rents are expected to range from $1,150 for a one-bedroom unit to $1,800 for a three-bedroom apartment, with reduced rates for the lower-income units.

A final farewell as Immaculata Academy closes after 88 years

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