Fidelis picks Amherst for sought-after expansion

October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM EDT

By James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

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October 17, 2013 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 3:25 PM EDT

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) - Fidelis Care New York has selected its Amherst operations as the site for a major expansion that could see the health care insurer add 385 more workers.

Representatives from Uniland Development Co. will be meeting with Amherst officials to fast track the proposed $16.49 million project that could see Fidelis double the size of its CrossPoint Parkway offices. The Amherst Planning Board will consider the plans on Oct. 17 and the Amherst Industrial Development Agency's directors are expected to consider an incentive package for the project when they meet on Oct. 18.

Fidelis, which has more than 900,000 members statewide, said the expansion is tied into the company's own growth.

The CrossPoint Parkway site was selected over aggressive offers made to Fidelis by developers in Albany and Queens. The Fidelis expansion was one of the most sought after projects in local and statewide economic development circles given its scope.

"Don't under estimate just how significant this is for the region," said James Allen, Amherst Industrial Development Agency executive director.

Fidelis moved to CrossPoint in August 2011 and hired 645 workers. According to public documents filed with the Amherst IDA, Fidelis hopes to hire another 385 workers during the next five years, with the average salary approaching $53,000 annually.

The project would virtually double the size of Fidelis' current 90,000-square-foot operations in CrossPoint.

"Landing this bodes well for this region's future," Allen said. "In effect, it is a support service for all the growth we are seeing in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and elsewhere in the region."

The CrossPoint land eyed for the expansion is currently vacant and generates just $9,850 annually in Amherst, Erie County and Williamsville School District property taxes. Uniland, on behalf of Fidelis, is seeking a 10-year enhanced payment-in-lieu-of-taxes package.

Even with the incentives, the project will generate $466,358 in new town, county and school district property taxes during the PILOT period, a net revenue gain of $367,858.

If approved, construction could start this winter.