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Business First: East Side senior apartment project wins tax breaks from the ECIDA

Reporter- Buffalo Business First

A plan to construct a 40-unit senior apartment complex received a series of development-related tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, with unanimous approval no less.

But, what made the nearly $5 million project — slated for a former brownfield site along Kensington Avenue — was the fact it was the first application to the county agency since a more stringent set of requirements governing senior housing developments was approved this past summer.

And, the development passed with flying colors.

"This project met or exceeded every criteria we set," said Brenda McDuffie, ECIDA chairperson.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who championed the revised senior housing tax break changes, said he was pleased with the Kensington Avenue project.

"This is the type of senior housing we were thinking of when we came up with the new policy."

The project is being overseen by a development partnership that includes the principals of Creative Structures Inc., Sinatra & Co., KLP Enterprises, attorney Craig Slater and businessman Mark Campanelli. The group wants to build the three-story, 41,250-square-foot apartment complex on a portion of what used to be the Hewett-Robbins factory site. The property has been vacant and considered an East Side eyesore for decades.

Sales and mortgage recording tax breaks amount to nearly $250,000.

David Pawlik, Creative Structures co-founder, said the apartments will target low-to-moderate income residents. A lengthy list of potential tenants has already been compiled.

ECIDA leaders hailed the project for hitting on virtually all nine criteria the agency established. The list includes building the apartments in an economically-challenged area and focusing on low-to-moderate income residents.

"This helps people who live in that part of the city to stay in their own neighborhood," McDuffie said.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the development group should be praised for pinpointing a parcel that historically "has been very difficult to develop."

Pawlik said remediation work on the site will begin in January with construction to follow. The building should be tenant-ready by the end of 2016.