By Joshua Maloni
No members of the public were in attendance Tuesday when a hearing was held regarding a request made by the Frontier House owners for a payment in lieu of taxes from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency. NCIDA Assistant Director Andrea Klyczek closed the meeting just two minutes after making her introductory remarks.
Applicant 4600 Group LLC seeks a 10-year PILOT, sales tax and mortgage recording tax abatement.
Village of Lewiston Mayor Anne Welch, who was in attendance, called this request “normal.” Klyczek agreed, and said it was “standard.”
A benefit to cost ratio lists the estimated value of property, sales and mortgage tax exemptions at $612,945. In return, the building renovation and reopening is projected to create an economic impact of $3,793,683.
The project summary describes the goal as “Rehabilitation of the historic ‘Frontier House’ to be utilized as a vibrant mixed-use destination. The basement and first floor will offer opportunities for boutique retail, office, and restaurant space. Floors two, three, and four (attic) will offer a combination of short and long-term residential dwelling units.”
4600 Group LLC said restoration of the Frontier House will result in regional wealth creation, proximity and support of regional tourism attractions/facilities, and local revenues.
Project expenses are shown at $5,292,351. An itemized list breaks those costs down to $800,000 for the initial acquisition in 2019; $3,865,893 in construction and improvements; $90,000 in furniture, fixtures and equipment; and $536,458 in soft costs.
Sources of funds are $3,969,263 from bank financing, and $1,323,088 in equity – without any committed grants or tax credits.
The project recently qualified for a $50,000 Niagara County façade grant.
The Frontier House
4600 Group LLC’s application for financial assistance lists principal owners/officers/directors as Jerome Williams Irrevocable Trust FBO (25%), Jeffrey D. Williams (25%) and 7112 Group LLC (50%). The main LLC is associated with Ellicott Development, whose CEO, William Paladino, is listed as 4600 Group LLC manager.
The applicant group stated, “The redevelopment plans will draw upon and celebrate the building’s rich history with the intent to make it a destination sought by visitors from outside the area. Two floors will host short-term rentals dedicated to serving tourists.
“The remaining space will contain rental units, commercial space and office space, with a lounge area and restaurant for guests.”
Currently, 460 Center is assessed at $300,000 ($150,000 for 0.9 acres of land, and $150,000 for the 17,066-square-foot building). When renovated, that assessment is estimated to be $2 million.
Said to be the Village of Lewiston’s “crown jewel,” the Frontier House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. It purportedly welcomed Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and President William McKinley as guests when it was considered the “finest hotel in the United States west of Albany.”
The building has been closed to the public since December 2004, when tenant McDonald’s Restaurant opted to end its lease with former owner Hastings Lewiston Inc.
Niagara County’s Industrial Development Agency will vote on 4600 Group LLC’s application for financial assistance at a meeting slated for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10.