BUFFALO, NY - Despite being owned by one of the Nation's wealthiest citizens, a Buffalo-bred company won hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks Monday, to ensure it stays in the Queen City for foreseeable future.
The Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) board of directors voted unanimously to grant Delaware North, owned by billionaire Jeremy Jacobs, $807,000 in sales tax abatements, so that it can move its corporate headquarters from the Key Center, approximately two blocks to a new $80 million building proposed by Uniland Development at the corner of Delaware Avenue at Chippewa.
Delaware North, a global leader in hospitality management & food service management, was started in Buffalo nearly a century ago.
"I think it was important to show the community, the business community and the general community in Western New York, that we support our home grown businesses," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who is also a member of the ECIDA board.
"I'm very happy that we approved what really are minor tax incentives to ensure the future of not only Delaware North staying in Erie County, but growing," Poloncarz said.
Under the deal, Delaware North agrees to lease about half of the 12 story Uniland structure for the next 20 years, and add 65 new jobs to the 350 they already have downtown. The new jobs will pay an average annual salary of $70,000 according to Delaware North.
Construction of the building Delaware North seeks to re-locate to, however, is still the subject of separate tax breaks requested by Uniland, which lowered its request after issues raised by Poloncarz among others.
"What Uniland is proposing now is not a full sales and property tax break," said Poloncarz. "It is only partial property and sales tax breaks on the portion that qualifies under IDA policy. Under the initial discussions we had with Uniland they were seeking sales and property tax breaks for the entire building including retail portion which I said I would not support.,"
The IDA is expected to hold a public hearing on Uniland's latest request next week, and vote on it in December.
"While I don't think it will necessarily be a unanimous vote, I think there will be enough votes there for approval of the revised application," said Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, who is also on the ECIDA board.
It almost seems, however, that the IDA would be hard pressed to say no given that it has already approved incentives for Delaware North as the building's primary tenant.
"If the application doesn't pass then I don't believe the building is going to be built ...rendering everything we did today moot," said Poloncarz. "If there is no building built, then I don't believe Delaware North is going to have a headquarters (there) to be getting a tax break for."