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WHEATFIELD – The Niagara County Industrial Development Agency board voted, 5-3, Wednesday in favor of a 15-year tax break for the conversion of a former Lewiston nursing home into apartments.

IDA Chairman Henry M. Sloma and member Jerald I. Wolfgang, who abstained when the 765 Fairchild Place deal was tabled last month, both voted yes Wednesday.

Sloma was a former owner of the property when it was the Fairchild Manor Nursing Home.

IDA attorney Mark J. Gabriele said the Village of Lewiston, where the plan has been controversial, still could stop the project, and then there would be no tax break.

IDA members Kevin McCabe, Michael W. McNally and Joseph A. Jastrzemski, the latter the Wilson town supervisor, voted against the request from James Jerge of Orchard Park and developer Robert Savarino of Amherst.

Jerge created 765 Fairchild Place LLC earlier this year and bought the one-story, 25,000-square-foot building from DLZ Capital of Brooklyn for $375,000.

The $4 million renovation plan would create 30 apartments to be rented at market rates. The tax savings are estimated by the IDA staff at $554,000.

Also Wednesday, the IDA unanimously approved payment-in-lieu-tax, or PILOT, arrangements for two new Niagara Falls hotels and an industrial expansion.

Praxair plans a nearly $12.5 million expansion of its plant on Royal Avenue in the Falls. The 15-year tax break is estimated to save the company nearly $1.1 million over the life of the PILOT.

Eight jobs, with an average salary of $78,000 a year, are to be added to Praxair’s 89-person Falls payroll as the company installs equipment to produce its own raw hydrogen, supplies of which have dwindled from other local outlets.

The IDA granted 10-year PILOTs for a new Microtel and a new La Quinta Inn.

The four-story, 60-room Microtel, being developed by Vibhu Joshi under the name of Niagara Falls Hospitality Inc., is to be built on the site of the former Captain’s Cove bar at 7726 Niagara Falls Blvd., which is to be demolished.

The $3 million project would create the equivalent of 11 full-time jobs.

The four-story, 66-room La Quinta is slated for the site of the former Sunrise Inn at 6335 Niagara Falls Blvd. It is being developed by Paresh Patel under the name of Niagara Lodging Inc. It would create 12 full-time equivalent jobs.

The PILOTs would save the Microtel an estimated $510,000 and the La Quinta Inn an estimated $640,000.

On another matter, the IDA board approved a $25,000 loan from its microenterprise program to Round One Fitness and Boxing, owned by David Ventry in the Wurlitzer complex in North Tonawanda. The business will expand this fall to include a full-service fitness club. The loan is for seven years at 5 percent annual interest.

The board also approved mortgage refinancings on two properties where it previously granted tax breaks.

The owners of the Haeberle Plaza on Portage Road in Niagara Falls, 224 Group LLC of Buffalo, are taking out a new mortgage. Sterling Energy Group, which last year bought out the former Niagara Generation power plant on Frontier Avenue in the Falls, also is refinancing.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com