Termini's restaurants hit IDA speed bump

July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 7:24 AM EDT

By James Fink - Business First


Termini's restaurants hit IDA speed bump

July 19, 2011 Updated Jul 19, 2011 at 7:24 AM EDT

Requests by developer Rocco Termini for incentives for two restaurant projects in downtown Buffalo will have to wait for another day.

Another 30 days, actually.

Termini had hoped to secure approximately $130,000 in tax abatement packages from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency that would help finance an Italian restaurant in the former Horton Coffee Co. building on Ellicott Street and another restaurant in the now-closed Golden Swan Cafe and Grille, also on Ellicott Street. The two projects represent an $800,000 private investment by Termini and his partners.

The county IDA reviewed both projects Monday morning, and a combination of questions raised and a bare-bones quorum prompted agency chairman Phil Ackerman to postpone any formal vote on the developments until an Aug. 15 meeting.

Termini said the one-month delay won't kill or derail his plans.

Termini hopes to close on the Horton Coffee building this week and the Golden Swan in the next few weeks.

"I think we're all set," Termini said. "It was probably just a misunderstanding about the roles restaurants can play in downtown."

The abatement package was questioned by Andrew Rudnick, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and chief executive officer, who said he felt there were other public sector agencies that could aid Termini's project. Rudnick is an ECIDA director and chairman of its policy committee.

Under IDA policy, the sites of both projects qualify under the adaptive-re-use and aid-to-retail-in-distressed-neighborhoods policies.

"I just think there are more appropriate entities out there for this project," Rudnick said.

Termini disagrees, saying only the IDA can offer sales and recording-tax breaks that make both projects financially viable.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, another ECIDA director, supports Termini's contention that the agency is the best avenue to secure the abatement package needed to advance the project.

"The ECIDA is the only entity that provides that kind of assistance," Brown said.

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