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A Kenmore business that tests engines made at the General Motors Powertrain plant in the Town of Tonawanda and a sister plant in Tennessee is receiving nearly $60,000 in tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Agency to move to a new site on Military Road.

ATSBNY plans to purchase a vacant 115,000-square-foot building at 1110 Military Road that was home to the Packaging Corp. of America. ATSBNY plans to renovate the building as part of a $1.6 million project that will expand its capacity to test engines and also allow it to seek other opportunities in the engine testing field, IDA officials said.

"It sounds like a great opportunity," said Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Anthony Caruana.

IDA officials said the incentives were important because GM has encouraged ATSBNY to consider moving the company to Spring Hill, Tenn., where many of the engines that it currently tests are manufactured.

The company currently has 11 employees and hopes to add 19 new jobs within two years, IDA officials said.

>Main Street building

The agency also approved $302,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks for Kissling Interests and its $6 million project to convert the largely empty office building at 298 Main St. into a mixed-use development that will include six floors of commercial space and loft-style apartments on the top five floors.

While the IDA generally shies away from housing projects, Andrew J. Rudnick, the chairman of the agency's policy committee, said the adaptive reuse project fits within the guidelines because it will breathe new life into a building that is more than 70 percent vacant and also dovetail with efforts to encourage new housing in downtown Buffalo.

"We were blown away by the mixed-use design specs we saw," Rudnick said. "The policy committee thinks this is exactly the kind of project we are wanting to have."

>Church conversion

The agency also approved $78,000 in sales and mortgage tax breaks for a $1.7 million project by developer David Pawlik and Creative Structures Services to convert the former New Covenant Church and Fellowship Hall at 786 Kenmore Ave., into a mix of apartments and commercial space.

The church voted in August to sell the property after its parishioner base had dwindled to less than 40 people. The final services were held at the church in October, said Karen Fiala, the IDA's assistant treasurer.

The project, which is expected to receive property tax breaks through a separate program administered by the City of Buffalo, will convert the church into 14 apartments, each about 2,000 square feet in size. The project also will include 2,000 square feet of commercial space.

"The church is happy to see Mr. Pawlik undertake the renovation now, rather than have the church sit vacant," Fiala said.

Rich Products deal

The IDA also approved $853,000 in sales tax breaks for the $18.5 million project by Rich Products Corp. to expand the customer innovation center at its Niagara Street headquarters. The project, first announced late last month, also is receiving $4.9 million in grants and tax credits from the state.

Rich, which expects to create 17 additional jobs at its 650-employee headquarters, uses the customer innovation center to develop new products with its customers.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the church being converted by Creative Structures Services.

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