YOUNGSTOWN – Village residents have two opportunities this week to voice their opinions on a $3.4 million proposal to knock down the abandoned Cold Storage buildings and construct a new 30-unit, “market value” apartment building, with tax breaks awarded to the potential developers.
This is the second time in three years that David Burke, of Burke Homes of Hamburg, and David Pawlik, of Creative Structures Services of Buffalo, have proposed a development plan for the site.
The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency will hold a public hearing at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in Youngstown Village Hall, 240 Lockport Road, regarding the developers’ request for 15 years of property tax reductions and exemptions from sales tax on building materials and furnishings for the apartments. It is expected to save the developers nearly $750,000 over the 15-year period.
The IDA is expected to vote on the request on Dec. 11.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Youngstown Village Board will hold a special meeting at Village Hall to discuss the proposal and welcome public comment, according to Mayor Raleigh Reynolds.
Burke and Pawlik first submitted conceptual plans to level the Cold Storage complex and build a $4 million senior housing complex at the site three years ago. These plans were dropped a year later when the Village Board failed to support Burke’s request for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement for the project. The proposal did not even reach the public information meeting stage in the village.
Reynolds said, “We were not in favor of the PILOT at that time, and he was unable to do it without it, but we parted on friendly terms.”
Reynolds said Burke approached the board again a little over a month ago with a new plan. “He is looking for a letter of support from our board for the IDA and that’s why we’re getting input from the public,” Reynolds said. “We need to hear what people’s reaction is. We’ll get the public’s input and then we’ll sit down as a board and decide what we want to do.”
The current plan calls for a two-story structure containing 30 one- and two-bedroom “market value” apartments, not specifically geared to seniors.
“We’ve downscaled from our initial plans for 50 senior apartments to 30 apartments and these will be market-rate instead of senior apartments, because it will give us a larger target demographic,” Burke said.
Burke also spoke of the “significant cost” of tearing down the century-old, abandoned fruit-packing complex on Third Street.
Reynolds said the village has been pursuing grants to finance the demolition of the buildings “because we couldn’t put the burden of doing that on the taxpayers.”
“We feel demolition has been a stumbling block to getting the site developed,” he said. “We thought that if we could get it knocked down, the site would be more attractive to developers.”
Manguso Development Co. of Amherst also withdrew $4.7 million plans to construct 48 senior units at the site last fall, citing a timing issue with investors.
Burke Homes and CSS have extensive experience building single-family homes, apartments, townhouses and commercial buildings in Western New York.
Burke said, “The Village Board must decide if it supports our efforts to get a PILOT and then, we’ll go back to the IDA and finalize our plans and move forward. We’ll know by Dec. 11 what will happen. If it’s approved, we’ll go back to the Village Board in February with our conceptual plan for its approval.”
The hulking former Cold Storage complex was used to wash, store and package local apples from 1910 to 1996. It consists of a deteriorating, three-story stone warehouse, a single-story brick ice house and a spray wash area. A vacant house at 718 Second St., also owned by the farmers’ cooperative that operated Cold Storage, was demolished in October 2008. The county took possession of the site after the farmers’ co-op stopped paying its taxes and the village received the deed in June 2008. It was a necessary step in accepting a $110,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the site.
With the help of additional county, state and federal grants, village officials oversaw the remediation of the site, which contained PCBs, metals, arsenic and inorganic chemicals from heavy machinery. The site was given clearance to develop in 2010 by the EPA and state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Village officials earlier had hoped to salvage some of the buildings, or at least the timbers, but they decided, with input from experts, that the site had deteriorated too much and would have to eventually be demolished.