Niagara IDA rejects One Niagara incentive plan

February 9, 2012 Updated Feb 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink, Buffalo Business First Reporter

February 9, 2012 Updated Feb 9, 2012 at 9:06 AM EDT

Unresolved legal issues concerning One Niagara LLC's efforts to renovate and redevelop the "flash cube" building in Niagara Falls proved to be too much of a road block for the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

On Wednesday, NCIDA directors rejected an incentive package sought for the project.

At issue is a challenge One Niagara has filed with the City of Niagara Falls over the assessed value of the Rainbow Boulevard property, pegged at $3 million, and $1.7 million in unpaid taxes that the development team won't pay until all issues are resolved.

One Niagara was seeking a long-term payment-in-lieu-of-taxes package that it considers crucial to its proposed $6.5 million renovation to the former Occidental Chemical Corp. headquarters building. One Niagara is considering a multi-tenant, mixed-use plan for the building.

"It is extremely unfortunate that the board had to reject the application of assistance to One Niagara LLC because the project is essential to the redevelopment of downtown Niagara Falls and the property has been under-utilized for far too long, but at this time there are far too many unknown variables that need to be addressed before we can consider offering any type of assistance," said Henry Sloma, NCIDA chairman.

Sloma said he also wanted more details from One Niagara about its development plan.

The rejection was unanimous from the NCIDA directors, but they left the door open for One Niagara to re-apply once all the issues are resolved and its plan better formulated.

In other business:

• Impressive Development Inc. received an incentive package for its plans to relocate from Division Street in North Tonawanda to Wheatfield Street. The garment industry printer and silk screener hopes to add four jobs to its 20-person workforce with the move and expansion.

• Surgit Singh also received an incentive package for plans to invest $800,000 on renovating a closed gas station on Niagara Street in the City of Niagara Falls into a Gulf-branded convenience store and gas station. The project is the first application made under an Opportunity Zone program the NCIDA created last year for economically-challenged portions of the county including large sections of Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda.

• Through its Niagara Area Development Corp. affiliate, NCIDA accepted an application from Niagara University to refinance $24.5 million in existing tax-exempt bonds and sign off on another $23.5 million in tax-exempt bonds for its new science building.

The directors will formally vote on the applications during its March meeting.

The 50,000-square-foot science center will replace an existing but aging facility. The package also includes renovation Niagara University's Meade Hall from a residential complex to administrative building.

"This is an exciting project for Niagara County and Niagara University," Sloma said. "We will do all we can to assist in ensuring the new science building is constructed."

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