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Your tax dollars at work

The developers working to renovate the Dulski Building held a press conference Monday to draw attention to their project. Let me do my part.

The first seven floors of the 15-story office building on Delaware Avenue will be an Embassy Suites hotel, which will compete with the taxpayer-subsidized Hampton Inn on Delaware Avenue, which competes with the taxpayer-subsidized Comfort Suites a couple of blocks away on Main Street. They all compete with the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, which has been getting subsidies since Jimmy Griffin was mayor.

Floors eight through 12 will be offices, two floors of which will be occupied by the law firm of Damon & Morey, which will move from taxpayer-subsidized space on Main Street, presumably adding to a downtown office vacancy rate of 10 percent.

The top three floors will be condos, selling for $350,000 to $1 million.The project -- which developers on Monday renamed "Avant," French for forward -- costs $71.4 million. Taxpayers are footing a significant portion of the bill.

The state has pledged a $7 million grant. The developer has also submitted a $19.2 million package of property, sales and mortgage tax waivers to the Erie County Industrial Development Agency. There's also an application pending for Empire Zone benefits; the developers won't say how much it is worth. I wouldn't be surprised if the total package tops $40 million.

Redeveloping the Dulski Building is a good thing. It was a vacant hulk. The question is whether the nation's second-poorest city should use its economic development resources to help build million-dollar condos and a well-heeled law firm jump from one subsidized building to another. Another question: Do developers need subsidies of this order to make projects work?

What do you think?


Economic Development | Subsidies
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