WILLSBORO-With development set to start, the Champlain Valley Senior Community got an assist from the Essex County Industrial Development Agency.
The Essex County ways and means committee passed a resolution allowing the IDA to enter into a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Eli Schwartzberg of Stonebrook Properties, LLC, for the former Willsboro Central School building which is being renovated and turned into the Champlain Valley Senior Community.
"We have come up with a plan to turn the former school building into a 64-room community and we plan to start construction on April 30," Schwartzberg said. "The business is front-loaded with high, fixed costs. Things work slowly and we will basically be losing money the first year-and-a-half. This gives us a chance to have 100 percent tax relief the first two years, and that will drop to 50 percent the third year and go down five to 10 percent each year after that."
Board members unanimously approved the resolution in the ways and means meeting, which clears the way for a full board vote on the matter March 8.
"The town and the school board have both met to review and have approved the 10-year PILOT," Essex County IDA co-executive director Jody Olcott said. "We look at what the county is going to be gaining in tax revenue, and we think that this is a unique and great project that we fully support. This will be the standard, uniform PILOT that we offer."
Olcott added that the project would be 95 percent privately funded.
Schwartzberg told the board that once completed, the community would mean over 30 full-time jobs being brought to Essex County.
"These are all jobs that cannot be outsourced," Schwartzberg said. "This will have a ripple effect that will create an anchor for the downtown of Willsboro and a new, viable business in the North Country."
Supervisors were very receptive to the deal.
"Our community center is the old high school, and I know that it is a challenge to take a building like that and make it work," Jay supervisor and board chairman Randy Douglas said.
"It's wonderful that you would take an old, historic building and do something with it and make something out of it instead of the community watching it fall to the ground," Chesterfield supervisor Gerald Morrow said.
Schwartzberg said that while there would be a two-year freeze on taxes, the third year would mean a spike to the tax base for Willsboro and Essex County.
"I think one of the things that people really like is that the building has been tax exempt for the last 80 years that will now be owned by a company," Schwartzberg said.