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IDA shenanigans in Clarence

Dashs_market State law was amended in 1993 to prohibit IDAs from giving benefits to retail operations, everything from dress shops to supermarkets. The six IDAs in Erie County followed up with a memorandum of understanding in 2001 that included the same requirement.

That didn't stop the Clarence IDA from helping to subsidize the new Dash's Market that opened in May at 8845 Main Street.

The site had been home to a couple of supermarkets in the past, a Jubilee and then a Latina's. The store was vacant when Dash's decided to open.

It's an upscale, modern market, complete with a drive through. The exterior is striking and inside includes a Spot Coffee, complete with a fireplace. And, get this, valet parking is available.

The Clarence IDA sanctioned the $5.1 million project, which included about $2.5 million in construction.

Dash's got a 10-year property tax abatement which will save it $110,000, a sales tax exemption on construction materials and non-production equipment worth $180,000, and a waiver on the county mortgage recording that will save it an undetermined amount. If Dash's floated a mortgage for the entire cost of the project, the savings would come to about $51,000.

The Clarence IDA used a "but for" clause in the state law and countywide IDA agreement to benefit the Dash's project. State law makes this exception when:

The predominant purpose of the project would be to make available goods or services which would  not,  but  for the  project,  be  reasonably  accessible to the residents of the city, town, or village within which the  proposed  project  would  be  located  because  of  a  lack  of  reasonably  accessible retail trade facilities offering such goods or services.

In other words, but for the subsidy, residents would be denied access to the retail service.

Buffalo has used incentives to help put a supermarket on Jefferson Avenue on the East Side and replace an aging grocery on Niagara Street on the lower West Side. Fair enough, as those communities might otherwise not have a supermarket.

But Clarence, one of the most affluent suburbs in WNY?

A search on Google Maps shows there are plenty of supermarkets that either border on the Clarence town line along Transit Road or are within a couple-mile drive. They include two Wegmans, two Tops, a Wal-Mart Superstore and, get this, a Dash's.

No access?

Technically speaking, none are in the Town of Clarence, and the IDA used that rationale to qualify the Dash's project.

"They didn't have one (supermarket) in the community," explained Paul Leone, director of business development for the Clarence IDA.

The IDA deal with Dash's new. But it's the one officials chose to crow about in a full-page ad that ran Monday in The News. The agency, in the ad, proclaimed the Dash's project "is a great example of how the IDA works for you."

Indeed, it does.

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