By Jann Wiswall

The Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency’s (CCIDA) Board of Directors expressed unanimous support for Sprague Development’s tentative proposal to turn the 1887 Building in the center of Ellicottville into a boutique hotel, and for Holiday Valley’s plans to make continued improvements to the resort at its meeting on March 19, 2013.

Kody Sprague described his company’s tentative plans for the 1887 Building. The plan involves turning the building’s classrooms into approximately 24 luxury guest rooms, maintaining the historic character of the exterior and bringing the entire structure back to its original prominence. To this end, he expects to do some brick restoration, replace windows and make the building ADA accessible. He also hopes to make good use of the ground-floor gymnasium – perhaps as a movie theater, meeting space or other community venue.

As noted at the Ellicottville Village Planning Board meeting on March 12, where there was broad support for the project, the biggest hurdle still to be addressed is parking for the hotel. Sprague said that if a parking solution isn’t found, the company may decide to abandon the project.

The CCIDA Board agreed that parking could be difficult to work out, but also felt that, if Sprague Development decides to leave the project behind, it could be years before another use is proposed for the building. Since it is largely unoccupied already, the board felt that a vacant building of such historic significance would be a drain on the village from many perspectives.

CCIDA Executive Director Corey Wiktor said he had reviewed the proposal “from the 30,000-foot level” and feels that a boutique luxury hotel would not duplicate other lodging offerings in the community and would be an economic win for the village.

Board member Greg Fitzpatrick agreed that this would be a great project that fits well into the CCIDA’s goals to expand tourism and bring jobs to the county.

The board approved a motion to schedule a public hearing on the proposal and to initiate a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) with the village as the lead agency.

Next, Win-Sum Ski Corporation’s Chief Financial Officer David Trathen presented Holiday Valley’s application for sales tax abatement on the resort’s 2013 plans for improvements, equipment purchase and continuing renovations. These plans include finishing some projects associated with the new main lodge, tearing down the old day care center structure and replacing it with a new plaza, removing the tent from the cabana/pool area and replacing it with a wood- and glass-enclosed area, purchasing some new grooming and snowmaking equipment, adding some new features to Sky High Adventure Park and making some interior improvements to the Inn at Holiday Valley.

Wiktor noted that Holiday Valley is coming off a robust season and that the resort, which employs well over a thousand people, continually reinvests in the community. Many of the planned renovations are designed to bring in even more people during non-ski seasons, further adding to the economic health of the community. As a result, he recommended approving the resort’s request for sales tax abatement on the $2.8 million cost of the planned work. The board approved the motion.

2012 Audit Report

Denise Veloski, CPA, with R.A. Mercer & Co., P.C., conducted the CCIDA’s 2012 Financial Audit and reviewed the final audit report in some detail with the board. She explained that the agency’s net assets exceeded its liabilities by $1,565,401 for 2012, compared to $41,562,308 in 2011. The total assets include $248,294 in property and equipment and $1,317,107 in funds “available to maintain the agency’s continuing obligations to citizens and creditors.”

Expenses totaled $225,588 for administration (e.g. personnel, benefits) and contracts (e.g. rent, utilities, professional services).

In 2012, the CCIDA reported its highest income in more than six years as a result of fees earned on inducements of “nearly $20,000,000 in total private sector project costs,” and “total private sector investment of nearly $255,620,000.”

The auditors found no weaknesses in the financial management of the agency. The board accepted the report as written.

Other Business

Before moving into executive session, the board approved some documents for prior applications, including an amendment of an application from HoliMont on its sales tax abatement for the quad chairlift, approval of tax abatement for construction of an office building project in Olean with Community Bank, N.A., and approval of tax abatement for construction of a commercial office building in Gowanda.

The board also resolved to send a letter urging Governor Cuomo, the State Assembly and other state decision makers to authorize funds to complete the NY portion of the Southern Expressway (U.S. Rte 219).

The next meeting of the CCIDA will be held Tuesday, April 23 at 11:15 a.m. at its offices at 9 East Washington St. in Ellicottville.

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