Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

November 29, 2013

Council vote on South Junior, Walnut Avenue projects draws puzzlement, anger


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “At the last minute he’s put these projects backwards,” Piccirillo said. “We could have had this conversation with him any time in the last six months.”



Piccirillo gave a presentation during the work session at Monday’s council meeting outlining the positive impact he said the projects will have on the city’s bottom line.

Both projects would see the respective agencies take over school board-owned buildings that have been vacant for at least a decade and produce no tax revenues.

The proposed PILOTs included long-term deals that would have seen the agencies pay a percentage of the rents they collect over the duration of the agreement.

The Housing Visions agreement was a 20-year deal that would have seen the agency pay the city 5.75 percent of rents collected, starting at $16,000 in annual tax revenues and building to over $20,000 each year over the course of the agreement, according to projections from the Community Development office.

The CB Emmanual project, a 30-year agreement, would see the agency pay 10 percent of rents collected starting at $33,000 and building to more than $600,000 a year, according to the projections.

Piccirillo said that, in addition to bringing in tax revenue on land that is producing none, the projects would alleviate the city and school board of the approximately $2.1 million it would cost to demolish all of the buildings that will be either demolished or renovated as part of the projects.

“Essentially these programs should not be called payment-in-lieu-of-taxes,” Piccirillo said. “The should be called payment-in-lieu-of-zero-taxes, plus caring costs, plus eventual demolition costs.”



Ben Lockwood, the director of development for Housing Visions, rushed out of council chambers after his agency’s PILOT was denied, visibly angered by the measure’s failure.

Lockwood later said he was upset that Choolokian would deny the PILOT despite having asked “no questions of real substance” during the months of negotiations between the city and his agency.

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