The Auburn Industrial Development Authority last week approved a revised package of financial incentives for a developer working to build a new hotel and conference center in downtown Auburn.
The 7-2 vote in support of the project followed a 5-4 vote against it in May. At that time, the majority of the AIDA board felt the deal was too generous. The developer then came back with some concessions, and a few votes shifted as a result.
Just as the 5-4 “no” vote required people involved in the project to work on changes, this 7-2 “yes” vote should allow this project to go forward. It appears, however, that the two remaining “no” voters, Auburn City Councilors Matt Smith and William Graney, may take their objections to the IDA deal with them to city council votes on other aspects of the project.
If these two kill this project with their council votes, it will be a step backward for the city.
Now that all of the current property owners at the proposed hotel site have agreements to sell to the developers, and now that a more reasonable financial assistance deal has been approved, this project is clearly a positive for Auburn.
It will redevelop a downtown city block that is, to put it politely, not one of the most attractive in the downtown area. It will bring millions of dollars worth of construction work to the area, will add jobs once opened and help keep Finger Lakes region tourists in Auburn, rather than passing through it.
When Smith and Graney, as members of council, are asked to vote on specific details of the project, such as the need to discontinue a portion of a city street — which, by the way, leads to nowhere — at the project site, they should be voting strictly on the matter in front of them.
Smith and Graney, as members of the IDA, felt the financial breaks were still too much. That’s how they voted on the matter in front of them, which is what they should do. But the majority of the board voted the other way, so that issue is now decided.
It’s time to move forward.