by Susan Mikula Campbell
Town of Niagara residents will have a chance to comment on a possible tax abatement for a planned $71 million Fashion Outlets of Niagara expansion during a town IDA public hearing at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at Town Hall.
"This is strictly tax abatement. The Town Board will become involved when we're asked for site plan approval," said Town Supervisor Steve Richards.
Doug Morrow, vice president of development for Macerich Partnership, owners of the mall, spoke with town IDA members about the project last Wednesday and expects to return for next Wednesday's public hearing.
The new retail space of about 175,000 square feet would be attached to the existing mall and use some of the former Sabre Park trailer park property, now owned by Macerich. The expansion plan also includes additional parking.
Cal Richards, chairman of the town's IDA, said the hearing will give the public, whether from the town, county or school district, a chance to comment. After the hearing, the IDA will hold a regular meeting to decide what they are going to do, he said. "I'm not sure if we will take action, but we could," he said.
Will the project be good for the town? "Definitely. No question about it," Cal Richards said, adding that calls the IDA has received so far are "very positive."
Macerich is looking for a 15-year graduated property tax abatement plan, the mortgage filing fee with the county and certain sales tax exemptions, he said. Its property tax benefit would be about $5.8 million over 15 years and the sales tax exemption on construction and furnishing the project would be about $1.5 million.
By the conclusion of the project, the community will benefit from new jobs, as well as increased sales and property tax funds. Richards said the total community benefit is estimated to be at $45.2 million.
Richards said Macerich's application shows that, in the first year after construction is completed, 16 full-time and 46 part-time jobs will be added. By the third year, there should be 649 full-time and 1,884 part-time jobs for a $44 million payroll. Jobs will include managerial, clerical, engineering and property maintenance.
Macerich has not yet released names of retailers that will occupy the new space, but Morrow said his company either has signed leases or is in negotiation with most of the potential tenants.