Niagara IDA approves tax break for Lockport assisted living complex

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Heritage Manor-Lockport

The sale of an assisted living complex in the City of Lockport will go forward, as the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency approved a 15-year tax package for the new owners Wednesday.

The unanimous vote came after the city dropped its opposition to the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, arrangement for the new owners.

The buyer is Vincent Properties, a subsidiary of DePaul Developmental Services, the Rochester not-for-profit organization that owns other subsidized housing developments in Lockport and Wheatfield.

Vincent will pay $6.4 million for Heritage Manor, a 40-room, 64-bed adult home on Lexington Court, and the adjacent Heritage Manor Estates, comprising 12 two-unit, one-story homes.

The current owners, Heritage Manor Associates, threatened to close the property if the deal fell through, and said Vincent wouldn’t buy the facility without a tax break.

The PILOT calls for Vincent to pay $80,000 to the city, county and Lockport City School District in the first year. That fee will rise 2% a year during the 15-year term.

The city will receive 33.1% of the payments, the county 15.4% and the school district 51.5%, according to a chart in Vincent’s NCIDA application.

Last month, Mayor Michelle M. Roman and all six members of the Common Council signed a letter to the NCIDA, opposing the deal.

The letter said Vincent sought a PILOT directly from the city on the grounds that it is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit enterprise, but City Assessor Tracy Farrell said no because all Heritage residents pay rent on their own, not through Medicaid or insurance.

The letter also said the city would lose $20,000 a year in revenue in the first year of the PILOT, a figure that would only go up because the property will be reassessed.

The $6.4 million sale price exceeds the current $2.45 million assessment. Also, Lockport plans a citywide revaluation to take effect in 2022.

Despite those complaints, NCIDA attorney Mark J. Gabriele told the board that the city dropped its opposition following a conference call Tuesday.

Roman informed NCIDA Executive Director Susan C. Langdon of that in an email at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, Gabriele said.

“After hearing additional information and receiving confirmation that residents would remain in the facility regardless if their financial positions would change, I personally as mayor agree with the PILOT for this project,” Gabriele read aloud from Roman’s email. “I understand that Rick Abbott, who is also one of the councilmen, from what he shared with me this evening, has changed his mind and now supports it as well.”

Abbott, who spoke against the PILOT at an Oct. 19 NCIDA public hearing, said Wednesday he did change his mind. He said Vincent agreed to pay the city $7,000 a year for street and utility maintenance.

“My concern was what would happen to Heritage if it were to continue under the present owner, because it was explained to us they (Vincent) would walk away from the project if they did not get the PILOT,” Abbott said.

“At that point, I was not willing to roll the dice to relocate seniors that are still part of our community to I don’t know where,” Abbott said.

The NCIDA released an email from Marc T. Eberhardt, a partner in Heritage Management, who told Langdon they decided to sell last year to “the perfect buyer that will continue the excellent care we have historically provided.”

Eberhardt added, “Without their PILOT approval we will be unequivocally closing the facility in 2021, resulting in the loss of 45+ jobs.”

Published by The Buffalo News

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