AUBURN | Developer Daniel Soules appealed to the AIDA board members' civic pride Tuesday evening while making his case for a tax abatement program for the Plaza of the Arts project proposed by his company.
Soules told the Auburn Industrial Development Authority that his expansive business empire can be traced to a small restaurant started decades ago on Auburn's Franklin Street called Taco Village.
From that 760-square-foot stand, Soules said he opened a second Taco Village in Liverpool and a health spa in Auburn. The company continued to grow, and now Soules' companies employ more than 700 in several states.
"This morning I was trying to work out how many millions of dollars in sales tax we pay in this community, how many millions of dollars worth of property taxes we pay. We're probably still one of the largest property owners in this community," Soules said. "The point of it is I started as one person in a little taco stand with the American dream."
Repeating figures from previous meetings, Soules said the 20,000-square-foot mixed retail, restaurant and office space building proposed for the site on Genesee Street currently occupied by the Auburn Family Restaurant, will generate $160,000 in annual sales taxes for the city and county and will add dozens of jobs.
"I've always given to this city, I've always been honest with this city," Soules said. "I'm not asking you for any more than to understand the fact that this is what these programs should be set up for, people who want to stay here, reinvest in this community and make a difference."
The 30-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement, or PILOT, requested by Soules for the project would freeze the building's property tax payments at $17,750 for 20 years and gradually increase the assessment to reach full value over the remaining 10 years.
"I understand your responsibility to the citizens of Auburn, I understand that they want to hear that you won the battle against the developer," he said. "On the other hand, you may win three battles here by getting rid of a bad building, helping a business that wants to get out, developing new sales tax dollars and rebuilding a part of the city that needs it and is hanging in the balance."
AIDA members said little about their willingness to grant the PILOT and exemptions from mortgage recording taxes, sales taxes on building materials and tipping fees for the demolition of the existing building, but Sue Chandler and William Graney asked board director Jennifer Haines to calculate the impacts of 10-, 15- and 20-year PILOTs before the board's next meeting.
"If we look at the standard policies that we were working on in strategic planning, that was sort of out of the ballpark," member Frank DeRosa said after asking Soules if he was still interested in pursuing the 30-year term. "I think we should have some discussion on that."
The board decided to meet again at 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 to discuss the proposal.