By Jann Wiswall
St. Bonaventure University, MJ Painting and Four Mile Brewing Company all had projects before the board of the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency/Capital Resource Corporation at its meeting on Feb. 13. The board approved resolutions to hold public hearings on all three of the projects and authorized preliminary State Environmental Quality Reviews (SEQR) for each.
The public hearings on the MJ Painting and Four Mile Brewing Company projects have been set for Wednesday, March 5 at 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively in Conference Room 119 at the City of Olean Municipal building at 101 E. State St. The hearing for the St. Bonaventure project had not yet been scheduled at press time.
St. Bonaventure University (SBU) in Allegany, N.Y., has applied to the CCCRC for its help obtaining tax-exempt bonds for a $10 million renovation and maintenance project on campus. This project includes rehabilitation of two, circa 1954, freshman residence halls — Devereux and Robinson-Falconio — as well as renovations including mechanical replacements, paving and related grounds work, finishes, building envelope repairs and campus infrastructure.
SBU’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Brenda L. McGee explained that this investment in the university “will help us continue to attract students during a time when the U.S. is seeing a decline in high school graduates and when Western New York is seeing a decline in population. Currently, 45 percent of SBU’s students are from WNY.”
McGee noted that the timing of these projects is important. Acceptance letters have gone out, but the students haven’t yet made their decisions.
“We think these improvements are the right investments to draw more students to our campus,” she said. “The tax exemption is critical to allow us to do more with every dollar.”
Construction is due to start on the last day of classes in May and is to be completed by the first day of classes in September.
The CRC board agreed that the project is consistent with its policies and that it will be “beneficial and significant for [SBU’s] student retention and incoming freshman base.”
Board member Salvatore Marranca added that “SBU is a key stakeholder in Cattaraugus County.” Greg Fitzpatrick also noted that SBU is one of the county’s largest employers.
In 2013, MJ Painting purchased 1.6 acres of land adjacent to its commercial property on Homer Street in Olean, N.Y., from the CCIDA. The company is in the midst of brownfield cleanup of that property.
At last week’s IDA board meeting, the company was back with an application for state sales tax abatement and other tax reductions for a planned expansion. The company expects to construct a warehouse, a paint shop and an addition to its offices. The total project amount is estimated at $528,500.
Company President Mike John explained that the proposed construction will enable the company to continue expanding its commercial, industrial and oil/natural gas painting services. The new paint shop building is responding to demand from customers who seek in-shop painting. He also said he has recently added four new employees and expects to hire 4-5 more field and office staff this year.
CCIDA Executive Director Corey Wiktor noted that the company makes an effort to use local vendors, as well as local employees, and that the multiplier effect is significant for the economic growth of the region.
John said he expects construction could begin as early as fall 2014 and that he intends to reserve 33 percent of the commercial property for green space with trees and attractive landscaping.
Four-Mile Brewing and Hellbender Development
Four-Mile Brewing and Hellbender Development (a real-estate holding company) have asked the CCIDA for its support of the companies’ efforts to purchase property at 202 and 210 E. Green St. in Olean. The property includes two vacant buildings. One, a 6,380-square-foot, architecturally unique building, will be renovated and used as a brewing facility, offices and taproom with seating for 60. The second will serve as a warehouse and cold storage facility. The site is located along the Allegheny River and used to house the Olean Brewing Company, which opened in 1907 and closed in 1920 due to Prohibition.
Nicholas Bohdanowycz, treasurer and secretary of both companies, explained that the company plans to renovate the smaller of the two buildings first with the hope of opening in August or early fall. The warehouse building will take years to renovate. The cost of the initial renovation project will be about $845,000.
The board was enthusiastic about the project, agreeing that its adaptive reuse will enhance tourism, employment, the property tax base and sales tax revenues in the area.
In other business, the CCIDA board approved a refinancing sale/leaseback request from Casadent, LLC in Allegany. The company entered into a sale/leaseback agreement with the IDA in 2011. The company now is seeking relief from refinance related taxes. Because the assistance requested will not exceed $100,000, no public hearing is required.
The board also made a resolution commending Joseph K. Eade for his service on the CCIDA board for many years. Eade has resigned from the board for health reasons.
The next meeting of the CCIDA/CRC will be held on Tuesday, March 18 at 11:15 a.m. at the CCIDA offices at 9 E. Washington St. in Ellicottville.