Thursday, January 24, 2013

Disagreement puts I-Square in limbo

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 8:53 AM

If the I-Square project in Irondequoit moves forward, it won't be in the form initially proposed, says the project's developer, Mike Nolan.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Irondequoit Town Board tabled a resolution to approve a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for I-Square, a development that would include space for commercial and retail, as well as public areas near the corner of Cooper Road and Titus Avenue.

Last year, the Town Board rejected Nolan's request for a 25-year PILOT agreement, opting instead for a 10-year plan. The move infuriated Nolan and I-Square's supporters. But town officials and Nolan had productive talks after that vote, Irondequoit supervisor Mary Joyce D'Aurizio said, and Nolan subsequently satisfied many of the town's concerns about financing and the project's business plan. So Nolan was back in front of the board last night to get his 25-year agreement: actually 15 years with two five-year extensions. If the resolution had passed, it would've negated the 10-year agreement.

So what went wrong?

Nolan said he received a copy of the resolution prior to yesterday's meeting, and that it had a paragraph he never agreed to. The paragraph dealt with Nolan's plan to apply for a PILOT through the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency. In simple terms, any deal Nolan negotiated with COMIDA would have to come back to the Irondequoit Town Board for approval. (COMIDA has the ability to orchestrate an overarching PILOT agreement that would cover town, school, and county taxes.)

That was unacceptable to Nolan, who said the provision would only cause further delay for the project. He asked to have the paragraph removed, and that's why the board tabled the resolution. Town Board members said that removing the paragraph amounted to a change substantial enough to warrant further review. Many in the audience were not happy about the board's decision and voiced their displeasure.

"They're making a grave mistake today," Nolan told reporters after the meeting.

Board member Deborah Essley said town officials ultimately want one of two things: to have representation at the table during negotiations with COMIDA, or to have Nolan's benchmarks — the dates when he expects to complete each of the project's seven buildings — in writing.

What happens next is anyone's guess. Town officials say they value the project and are hopeful negotiations will continue. Nolan, however, is clearly frustrated.

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