The developers of a 112-unit senior citizen housing complex in Lancaster are seeking tax breaks from the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency for the $12 million project – and the town IDA wants to act soon, since state lawmakers are considering changes in how such approvals are made.
Regent Cos., which plans to build market-rate apartments on 9 acres at 4845 Transit Road, is seeking breaks on the sales and mortgage-recording taxes. The IDA board is likely to take up the request at its meeting next month.
Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli, who also serves as Lancaster IDA chairman, said he hopes to schedule the public hearing and vote on the project for the IDA’s March 12 meeting because of a provision in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed budget that would require state approval before local IDAs can grant sales tax breaks for projects.
Though the provision’s prospects are uncertain, Fudoli described the proposed change as onerous and said he wants to bring the Regent project up for a vote before the state budget is approved.
“This would affect economic development in just about every county, every town and country, across the state,” Fudoli said at Tuesday’s IDA board meeting in Town Hall.
Some critics also have taken issue with the practice of area IDAs granting subsidies for senior citizen housing, but Fudoli said he supports the project because of the parks and recreation fees and the property taxes – particularly to the school district – the developer will pay.
The project is the third phase of Regent’s Park Lane Apartments. The two previous phases have about 20 buildings and 250 total units.
For the latest phase, Regent wants to construct seven two-story buildings, with 16 units per building, on Transit south of Michael Anthony Lane, along with nine garages, a clubhouse and a pool, according to IDA and town Building Department records.
Total residential space is 105,000 square feet, and the apartments would serve residents 55 and older who want to live independently.
IDA staff members have not yet calculated the value of the requested sales and mortgage-recording tax incentives.
The IDA will not provide a property tax break for the project, and Fudoli said Town Board members turned down Regent’s request for a waiver of the town’s parks and recreation fee, which in this case would amount to about $140,000.
Regent’s David A. Huck was unavailable to comment, and no one else from the company returned a phone message Tuesday afternoon.
The Erie County IDA and the Hamburg IDA are among the agencies that have granted tax breaks for senior citizen housing in recent years. And the Lancaster IDA in 2008 approved a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, or PILOT, for a $9.6 million, 209-unit senior citizen housing complex built by Clover Construction Management at Pavement Road and Broadway.
Andrew J. Rudnick, president and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and chairman of the Erie County IDA’s policy committee, has called for a countywide or regionwide study to examine the need and demand for senior citizen housing.
Lancaster IDA consultant Paul R. Leone said Tuesday that IDA regulations allow for subsidies for senior citizen housing and that the Lancaster IDA did require Regent to perform a market study to demonstrate that the project would fill a need for senior citizen housing in the town.
Leone and Fudoli pointed to the parks and recreation fee that Regent would pay, money that goes into a fund used by the town to cover the cost of maintaining town parks – a cost that otherwise would be passed on to town taxpayers.
The owner of the senior citizen complex would pay school property taxes, Fudoli said, but the district presumably wouldn’t have the expense of educating any children living there.
“The project would benefit – immensely benefit – the Lancaster School District,” Fudoli said.