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West Side apartments to get tax breaks

by bkurtz
Tue, Jul 13th 2010 08:00 am
The Buffalo News  [ View Original Article ]

By David Robinson

NEWS BUSINESS REPORTER

A project to convert the former Horsefeathers building on the West Side of Buffalo into 16 loft-style apartments and a year-round food market will receive $167,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The $3.8 million project would transform the 114-year-old former warehouse into an indoor farmers' market, food production center and apartments, but developer Karl Frizlen has said the initiative hinges on the receipt of historic tax credits.

The project would turn the first floor of the five-story building into a local food market, including 10,000 square feet of space that would be leased to White Cow Dairy, an East Otto farm products business.

The upper floors would be converted into 16 loft-style apartments geared toward students and families, with monthly rents ranging from $1,100 to $1,400.

The project also is expected to seek property tax breaks through a program administered through the City of Buffalo.

The building was once home to Horsefeathers Architectural Antiques and Hollywood Hanks. Horsefeathers has since moved to a site on Chandler Street in the city's Black Rock neighborhood.

The IDA board delayed taking any action on a $6.7 million project by Anderson Equipment Co., which is seeking to move its construction equipment distribution business from Great Arrow Drive in Buffalo to the former Syracuse Supply building in the Town of Tonawanda.

The project was on the IDA's agenda, but board Vice Chairman Philip Corwin said it would not be taken up at Monday's meeting, following an unusually long executive session that delayed the start of the agency's public meeting by 20 minutes.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said he requested the delay because the city was officially notified of the company's plan to move two weeks ago. Projects involving the move of a company from one local community to another must be approved by the chief executive of the municipality losing the business, typically after a process that involves a search for suitable locations within that municipality.

Wayne Schueing, Anderson's general manager of product support, said the company had been working with private real estate agents in arranging the purchase of the site in the spring of 2009, but that both of those individuals have since died. While Schueing was not sure what contact those representatives had with city officials, Schueing said his first meeting came about two weeks ago.

Anderson, which acquired the city distribution business in 1996 through its acquisition of Rupp Rental and Sales, is seeking $816,000 in property, sales and mortgage tax breaks for the move, which company officials said is needed to remain competitive. The city site requires customers to navigate congested city streets with flat-bed trucks, while the Town of Tonawanda site, at 2140 Military Road, has easy access to the Youngmann Expressway.

Schueing said he was "a little bit" surprised by the delay. "We have work started, and we've made a commitment to the area," he said. "We hope we can keep the project on schedule."

Brown said the project likely would receive his support. "We've had initial conversations with the business, and we will meet with them again, but it appears to be clear that their very specialized needs might not be able to be met in a city location," Brown said after the meeting.

"Because of that, we will likely be supportive when it comes before us next month," he said.

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