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.

Staff writer Nathan Baker can be reached at 282-2238 or nathan.baker@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBaker.

(6) comments

patchwork
patchwork

I disagree with Mr Soules that this is a battle against a developer, just like I don't think he views it as a battle against the taxpayers. This, in my opinion, looks like a good project and is a better candidate for a PILOT than a recently approved one with multiple buildings scattered throughout downtown, but 30 years seems too long.

Several leaders at the first economic development consolidation meeting and the Chamber of Commerce have pointed towards Genesee County as possibly one to learn from or copy.The most recent Annual Report from The Genesee County IDA dated 12/31/2011 shows around 100 projects under their belts over the past several years and with a handful of exceptions the PILOTs appear to span around 10 years each. The exceptions that seem to jump out were for retirement and special needs housing and another for the Darien Lake theme park that carried over 400 jobs. In my humble opinion, 10 years and clawback language should be standard for PILOTs with few exceptions.

concerndctzn
concerndctzn

this looks and feels like another developer looking to further line their pockets by taking advantage of a small community. With a steadily declining population and countless empty buildings already it seems foolish to even consider this. There is no way that this "is good for the community". I dont mean to sound pesimistic, but 30 yrs is pleany of time for the businesses to fail and or pull out, then we are left with more high dollar vacant property with no recourse to get our lost revenue back. Dont get me wrong if there was a way for me to deflect my taxes i would, but in no way would that be good for Auburn.

ONIONRINGSNY
ONIONRINGSNY

I moved from Auburn 7 years ago. Tell ya what Auburn. Give ME a 30 year tax deal and I'll consider moving back.

AuntClara2
AuntClara2

Dan and Karol Soules should think about building in Virginia where their business headquarters are now. We do not need another coffee shop or boutique restaurant. We already have Tim Horton's in Auburn and Weedsport, Panera Bread, Two Dunkin' Donuts, Two River Bend coffee shops, a bookstore that sells coffee, several diners, Wegman's, and more shops. Does Dan Soules really think Auburn can afford $4-$5 coffees everyday? He thinks he will do well at his new restaurant, and office building. With store vacancies, and JBJ now renting stores, the businesses that exist are already struggling to pay the rent and taxes. Now Dan Soules, a multi-millionaire wants the city and county to give him tax breaks for 30 years, no sales tax on any 2x4's, and no county mortgage recording fees also. Seems the rich get richer, and the mom and pop store owners get poorer. What ever happened to busineses building the business, fixing it up, and maybe getting investors, and work hard without AIDA handouts.

patchwork
patchwork

You cannot blame any developer for asking for a 30 year deal, when AIDA has given out some generous packages in the recent past. I haven't seen all the details on the request, only what's been published. When I see projections like "dozens of jobs", does that mean 12, 24, 36? How many jobs are at the current business and how much in sales tax revenue are they paying? What will the new jobs pay and are they full or part time with benefits? Since jobs and economic growth are the goals, all of those numbers have to be pinned down and guaranteed by the developer and in the event that the project underperforms and with the proper contract language, AIDA can recapture the benefits for the taxpayers. Another consideration should be the impact to existing businesses. If all the data works out, a 10 year deal should be the maximum with the assessment frozen for a short term, not the taxes. As usual the devil's in the details.

that's just silly
that's just silly

I will pay, on a $60,000.00 house, over 100,000 in city, county and school taxes over 30 years. can I also have a 30 year deal? are you crazy? if this is such an excellent business why does he need this kind of a deal to make it work? He will sell the property to another shell and run it into the ground before he has to put another dime into it if you give him this kind of a deal--what are you people thinking and why are you on a board that is giving out our money with no regard for what will happen 25 years from now?

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