BUFFALO, NY - The owner of the Buffalo Sabres has big plans to develop the area around the arena in downtown Buffalo. HARBORCenter, as the development project is called, is a $123 million dollar development and Terry Pegula is seeking tax incentives.
On Monday, the Erie County IDA Policy Committee voted to approve a recommendation of $24 million in tax incentives for the project. The entire board is expected to meet and approve the recommendation on Feb. 19th.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a member of the ECIDA, said, "it's a fantastic project, I think to what level everyone understands that we're working on in collaboration with Canalside, it's going to bring people downtown all year round." As for tax incentives, "we have to ask is it appropriate for it to receive tax breaks and we're doing that examination right now. The issue is once again, are they good paying jobs is it something we can be proud of for the future and does it fit in our policy and if it does, we will approve it."
Buffalo Common Councilmember Darius Pridgen was on a committee that recommended HARBORCenter to the Mayor for developing the Webster block. He has no problem with giving tax incentives to the billionaire who will invest millions of private money into the development that will result in two hockey rinks, a hotel, parking deck, restaurant and retail. "We're talking about hundreds of millions of private dollars. When have we ever had an owner of any team, with this much money come in and say, 'listen I'm believing in the place where I have my team and I'm investing hundreds of millions of dollars of my own money,' and then we say let's nickel and dime for a few tax breaks, when it's going to be millions of dollars coming into our economy," said Pridgen.
Tax incentives are not loans or checks, it is truly a tax break.
"I've seen the IDA approve things for restaurants or a car dealership, I'm not saying those things are bad, but when you're talking about something that is going to bring millions and millions and millions of dollars into our economy, that's going to bring jobs, I think this is just a no-brainer. To suggest that just because the Pegulas have billions of dollars, that they should not be eligible for some incentives, because this is almost a break-even project."
HARBORCenter LLC will pay $2.2 million for the Webster Block.