WHEATFIELD – A new jet boat tour in the lower Niagara River and a new boutique hotel for downtown Niagara Falls sought tax breaks Wednesday from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.
Niagara Jet Adventures, owned by Michael Fox, hopes to open in August with three 33-foot boats.
Unlike Whirlpool Jet Boats, which has operated from Lewiston and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., since the 1990s, Fox’s Youngstown-based boats will have mostly enclosed seating.
There will be 22 seats inside and as many as 11 outside on the stern, for more adventurous types.
“We’re hoping to extend our season, because our boats are enclosed. They’re heated and air-conditioned,” said Fox, who also owns Fox Fence Co. in Niagara Falls.
Depending on ice conditions, Niagara Jet could operate 10 months a year.
Fox, who opened a 28-slip marina in Youngstown in April, said he has ordered three 1,700-horsepower boats from his business partner, Chris Bohnenkamp of Meridian, Idaho, who will work with him part of the year in Youngstown.
“He’s my key to successful operation. He lives and breathes whitewater boats,” Fox said. Bohnenkamp specializes in river boat rescues on the Snake River, Fox said.
He is seeking a five-year property tax and sales tax abatement. The $898,000 project would create the equivalent of 11 full-time jobs.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Elahi, owner of a 32-room motel on Grand Island, is asking for a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement on an 11-room independent boutique hotel to be placed in a vacant two-story office building at 452 Third St. in the Falls.
The 4,585-square-foot structure, owned by two residents of Flushing, Queens, is to be purchased for $155,000. Another $440,000 is to be invested in the conversion.
Ozzie Elahi, the owner’s brother, said the new hotel should open early next year.
Basil Elmer of Hampton Group, a Rochester commercial financing company, said the acquisition should be complete by mid-July. His firm is not associated with Hampton Inn hotels.
The new hotel would create the equivalent of four full-time jobs.
The IDA board set public hearings on the requests: 3:30 p.m. July 17 in Youngstown Village Hall for the jet boat project and 3:30 p.m. July 18 in Niagara Falls City Hall for the hotel project.