Tax breaks key to new Saratoga Springs cinema
Downtown theater hinges on IDA help
SARATOGA SPRINGS A proposed downtown movie theater complex won’t go forward without tax breaks from the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency, a project representative said Monday.
“The thing that will turn the corner and make this [economically] feasible is the tax benefits from the IDA,” said Matthew Jones of Saratoga Springs, an attorney for project developer Sonny Bonacio.
Jones made a presentation to the IDA board at a meeting in Halfmoon, and at the same meeting city officials said they support the plan for the site of the former Price Chopper supermarket at Railroad Place and Church Street.
The proposal calls for installing 11 theater screens — one of them a “large screen format” theater — in the former Price Chopper. The $18 million project would also include construction of two floors of new office space above the theaters.
The requested property tax breaks would not apply to the office space, which would be assessed at an estimated $600,000, according to Jones.
“There is a lot of excitement in the community for this project,” said Mayor Scott Johnson. “Without the IDA support, this project will not happen.”
The IDA board set a public hearing on the application for 8 a.m. Monday, July 30, at Saratoga Springs City Hall.
Jones asked the board to set the date only three weeks away so the developer will have an answer before investing further.
“This is a go/no go decision for us,” Jones said.
Bonacio would like to start work this fall and complete construction by next spring.
Bonacio’s company is asking the IDA for tax incentives that could be worth $933,700 over five years, or $1.28 million over 10 years. Whether to grant a property tax exemption for five years or 10 years is one of the decisions the IDA board will have to make.
Jones said the tax breaks — exemptions from the sales tax on building materials, the mortgage recording tax, and property tax on the theaters — are needed to overcome the higher costs of downtown development compared with suburban malls, where most movie theaters are located.
“We expect it to be a major draw downtown,” Jones said. “It will draw patrons not just from Saratoga County, but outside, as well.”
The city hasn’t had a commercial movie theater since 1980, though there’s a movie complex just outside the city at the Wilton Mall.
“We support this wholeheartedly. This is great for Saratoga Springs community and great for the economy,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
The plans will have their first review by the city Planning Board on Wednesday night at City Hall.