DePaul project green lit; discussions turn to PILOT agreements

Submitted site plan of the DePaul project at 2224-2240 Old Union Road.
Submitted site plan of the DePaul project at 2224-2240 Old Union Road.

CHEEKTOWAGA – DePaul Properties got the green light from the Cheektowaga Town Council to build 95 new apartments on Old Union Road, now the focus turns to securing new PILOT agreements with the town so the group can secure financing for the project.

A payment in lieu of taxes agreement will give financial backers predictability for their investment according to DePaul representatives.

“They want to know how much and what it is before they invest in it,” said Chris Syracuse, Executive Director and Vice President of DePaul.

The organization approached the town over the summer to request two PILOT agreements.

“One would be tax-exempt which we are currently paying now and then we’ll come up with a second one for the other parcel,” added Mr. Syracuse.

DePaul’s original property, Glenwall Senior Living on Old Union Road, is not-for-profit and is not required to pay any tax.  They approached the town in the 90s to negotiate a $20,000 yearly PILOT which splits that money between the police department, Bellevue Fire District, and the town’s lighting district.

Mr. Syracuse and attorney Christopher Ollinick of Buffalo law firm Cannon Heyman & Weiss, LLP attended the town board work session Tuesday afternoon to answer any remaining questions from the board regarding the site plan but the conversation turned to new PILOT agreements.

“I just don’t want that to back us into a corner,” said Supervisor Diane Benczkowski.  “We have to look out for the taxpayers also.”

The town is not obligated to grant DePaul any PILOT agreement and could just tax the new development at the property’s assessed value according to Deputy Town Attorney Melissa Reese.

“The question is, the town has had a relationship with DePaul, so will that relationship continue and what direction will that go in,” said Ms. Reese.

DePaul is hoping the new PILOT agreements would have a life of 30-40 years and would include payments to the Cheektowaga Central School District, the Bellevue Fire District, the police department, and the lighting district.

The town is researching how it can collect the money for the two other separate taxable districts and distribute the money.

“That’s what they’re discussing,” said Mr. Ollinick. “How do we structure one of these in an appropriate way and who they also need to get onboard.”

The DePaul representatives did not want to comment on the amount of money they are seeking to pay the town as negotiations are still ongoing.

The private, not-for-profit organization will demolish an existing office and commercial building at 2224-2240 Old Union Road and will construct two, three-story apartment buildings.  Each building will house 40 apartments.