New tax incentive plan floated for old Victory mill
VICTORY There’s a new proposal for tax breaks to assist conversion of the aging Victory Packing mill in Victory into loft apartments — one local officials are looking at more favorably than past proposals.
Under a $26 million plan developer Uri Kaufman has submitted to the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency, the former industrial site after two years of construction would pay $147,500 annually in taxes for the following eight years.
“Either this benefit goes forward or it will have to be torn down, probably by the county,” said IDA board member Charles Hanehan, who also sits on the Saratoga Town Board.
The IDA voted at a meeting Tuesday in Ballston Spa to set a public hearing on the application for 8 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9, at the Victory Village Hall. A decision then is likely.
The new application comes two years after the IDA rejected a previous benefit package sought by Kaufman for restoration of the mill, which is the dominant feature in the tiny village of Victory. At that time, Kaufman sought a much lower tax bill than he is now seeking, and many residents of the area were opposed, although Kaufman also had strong supporters.
The village supports the current proposal, said Mayor Patrick Dewey.
“There’s no question, 80 percent or more of the residents are in favor of getting this done,” he said following Tuesday’s meeting.
Kaufman, whose previous mill reuse projects include the Harmony Corners apartments in Cohoes, wants to convert the 250,000-square-foot building overlooking Fish Creek into 98 upscale apartments — eventually to become condominiums. There would also be a 100-child day-care facility with as many as 74 employees.
The day-care center could include overnight provisions to care for the children of night-shift workers at GlobalFoundries and other round-the-clock companies, said Kevin McAuliffe of Syracuse, the attorney representing Kaufman.
Kaufman paid Saratoga County $50,000 for the abandoned mill in 2008, after the county acquired it for a second time because of unpaid taxes. No business has operated there since 2000.
“The building has been essentially abandoned since 2000,” McAuliffe said.
Kaufman previously estimated he has spent $500,000 to $1 million on stabilizing the building and on economic and environmental studies since he bought the property.
“It has no hope of coming back as a manufacturing facility,” McAuliffe said.
Under the proposal now before the IDA, Kaufman’s company, Riverview Realty, would pay the same amount in taxes it does now — about $15,500 — for the next two years. After that, assuming the mill’s conversion to apartments is complete, the building would pay annual taxes of $1,500 per apartment.
In its application, the company estimates its taxes would total $147,500 a year for eight years. That would break down to the Schuylerville Central School District receiving $79,490, the village receiving $54,107, Saratoga County receiving $9,555 and the town of Saratoga receiving $4,347.
McAuliffe said the apartment complex should have almost no impact on the school district, in terms of bringing in new resident children.
“These are small loft apartments. These are young couples, or people who don’t want a yard anymore. These are not three-bedroom units with a lot of room or kids running around,” McAuliffe said.
In addition to the proposed tax arrangement, the developer is asking the IDA to approve a mortgage tax exemption worth an estimated $250,000 and a sales tax exemption on building materials worth $920,000.
The alternative to the deal, officials believe, is Kaufman abandoning the project and the eventual loss of the mill, the oldest parts of which date from the 1840s.
“At the moment, this is a dead shell, and someone has to do something with it or it comes down,” McAuliffe said.
Kaufman, of Nassau County, has been hailed for his transformation a decade ago of the Harmony Mills complex in Cohoes, but he has also run into problems elsewhere with his mill rehab projects. In Amsterdam, he presented an ambitious plan to turn the eyesore Chalmers Knitting Mill complex into luxury apartments but was unable to make progress on it. The city got into a legal battle with him, and the plan died. The city tore the buildings down in 2011 and is hoping to attract new development to the site.