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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

IDA invites public to discuss Affinity PILOT

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POTSDAM - The St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency will be holding a public meeting on Thursday to discuss a potential payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with developers Chason Affinity, Buffalo.

The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. in the village of Potsdam community room, 2 Park St.

“It will be a chance for people to come out and share their views,” said St. Lawrence County IDA CEO Patrick J. Kelly.

The future of the PILOT was put in serious doubt after failing a vote for approval by the Potsdam Town Board on June 25. The PILOT needs the approval of both the town and village of Potsdam boards and the Potsdam Central School Board of Education in order to take effect. The school board opted not to vote in the PILOT last month after the town board rejected the proposal.

Affinity plans to build a $20 million student housing development on vacant property near 206 Main St., but has said that they cannot begin the project without the tax breaks provided by the PILOT.

Despite the deal’s uncertain future, obtaining community feedback is still important, according to Mr. Kelly. The results of the meeting could help determine how the development moves forward.

“The IDA is still interested in soliciting input and feedback on the project,” Mr. Kelly said.

All proposed projects in which the IDA plans to provide over $100,000 worth of benefits require a public hearing by law.

Affinity’s plans called for the construction of 100 apartments, targeted at college students. The proposed tax break had been criticized by some landlords in the community, noting they receive no receive no incentives for the improvements they make.

If the PILOT was approved, Affinity would pay 65 percent of the assessed tax rate for the development for five years after finishing a unit on the property. While the rate paid for the land may vary based on the annual assessment, the rate paid for the buildings themselves will be fixed until the end of the agreement. After the five years are up, the rate will increase by 5 percentage points per year. At the start of the 12th year, the company would revert to paying full tax rates.

Despite some concerns, the village board had agreed the PILOT was necessary. Even with the tax breaks, the village would receive $650,000 in revenue from Affinity over the course of the agreement, they noted.

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