Chautauqua County officials are looking to transfer some properties to the county Industrial Development Agency to benefit some businesses and get rid of some dilapidated properties in the county.
The legislature’s Audit and Control Committee has approved transferring parcels in Falconer, Silver Creek, Ripley and Jamestown. The full legislature must give final approval.
“Each and every one of them has an economic development potential,” said Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and chief executive officer of the county IDA.
In Falconer, there is a “sliver of land” along the railroad tracks by Maplevale Farms. The company currently has a parking lot across the street and drivers have to have a commercial driver’s license to take trucks across the street.
“Their intent is to use this parcel, plus they want to purchase land (from a neighboring business) and create a parking lot behind their facility which would then allow them to have drivers without CDL licenses move the trucks behind the building,” Geise said.
He noted the property has cycled through the foreclosure property more than once. The IDA is offering $1 for the property, along with covering all filing fees and will cover all schools taxes owed for the 2022-23 school year.
The IDA is also offering to take over the old Moose Lodge that sits in Silver Creek. The building is located near the former Petri building that is now owned by Christmas Dave LLC.
“This building is in rough shape. All of the trim and all of the woodwork has been gutted. … It’s in bad shape,” Geise said.
It has cycled through auctions several times, but no one wants it. “It needs to be demolished,” Geise said.
Geise said Christmas Dave is planning on spending $30,000 to demolish the building. Once it’s gone, it will become part of the company’s parking lot and enable trucks to enter and leave the property more easily.
Legislator Tom Harmon, R-Silver Creek, expressed his support. “I’m happy about the Moose. It’s an eyesore,” he said.
Along with the old Moose Lodge, Geise said the IDA also wants to buy a sliver of land near the creek behind the old Petri building. That land would also be given to Christmas Dave so the company can increase the size of its parking lot and make it easier for trucks to enter the facility.
The agreement calls for the IDA to pay $1 for each parcel, as well as cover all filing fees and school taxes for 2022-23.
In South Ripley near the Pennsylvania line, there is a 5-acre parcel that the IDA wants so it can turn it over to Chautauqua Property Holdings LLC for $56,000. The deal would also include filing fees and the 2022-23 school taxes.
Geise said land in that area generally costs around $8,000 an acre. Chautauqua Property Holdings will pay $10,000 an acre.
The company wants the land for ConnectGen’s $300 million, 270-megawatt solar project.
“They need this parcel for their interconnect with National Grid,” Geise said.
According to Geise, there is outdated electrical infrastructure on the land that needs to be removed. “Originally, Welch’s was going to use it for a project down there. … It’s useless down there now,” he said.
There is a small parcel of land behind the National Comedy Center that the IDA wants to purchase for $1 so it can give the property to the museum.
Geise said the parcel originally had a building on it that was full of asbestos, which is why the Comedy Center hadn’t purchased it in the past.
“They were worried about environmental liability,” he said.
The building has since been razed and the asbestos has been removed.
“They really need that parcel for future development behind the National Comedy Center, as part of their National Comedy Center Park,” Geise said.
Geise said the IDA would not pay back taxes owed for village, town or city.
“A lot of these properties are not worth what is owed in back taxes,” he said. “That’s why they’ve continued to cycle through the auction. The value is far less than what’s owed.”
He expressed his support for all the transfers.
“We want to get them in the hands of the right entities so that they can help the county and help everyone,” Geise said.
The Audit and Control Committee unanimously backed the request. The full legislature will vote for final approval on Wednesday.