News Column

Falls lawmakers OK back taxes deal for One Niagara

August 15, 2014

By Aaron Besecker, The Buffalo News, N.Y.



Aug. 15--NIAGARA FALLS -- City lawmakers Thursday approved another deal over back taxes -- this one for $1.6 million -- on a key piece of downtown real estate.

One Niagara LLC, which owns the building at 360 Rainbow Blvd. now called One Niagara, has until the end of the day Tuesday to pay back taxes, penalties and interest, under the agreement approved by a 3-2 vote of the City Council.

The company will be paying in the next day or two, One Niagara's Tony Farina said after the Council vote.

The property, which is home to food and souvenir vendors, a Native American dance show, offices and a paid parking lot, has had various ownership interests fighting among themselves for years. Attorney Paul A. Grenga and Lawrence Reger, partners in One Niagara, purchased it in 2010. Reger was an investor in the property at the time it was the site of the failed AquaFalls project.

Only about four floors of the nine-story structure are presently used, though the owners have said resolving the ongoing tax issues would allow them to invest further.

Richard F. Soluri, director of government and community affairs for One Niagara, said the building recently added an outdoor restaurant and may be adding a restaurant on the building's ninth floor, though he said there are no definitive plans for that space.

Any improvements to the ninth floor -- which in the past has been used as an observation deck -- will include roof repairs, which the building needs, he said.

The settlement payment will cover all taxes, penalties and interest for tax rolls prior to July 1, 2009. It also includes the taxes from July 2009 through this year, based on an assessed value of $1 million for the property, which was agreed upon in the deal.

Under the agreement, failure to pay by the deadline makes the settlement null and void. If that happens, court dates have been scheduled in September and October in both the assessment challenge and the foreclosure action, respectively.

The latest deal also covers this year's taxes, though what was on the table earlier this year would not have included them.

This isn't the first time city lawmakers have approved a deal with One Niagara's ownership regarding back taxes.

In February, the Council gave the go-ahead for a deal that required payment by Feb. 28, a deadline One Niagara then got extended until April 30.

No payment was made at that time, when the amount owed was approximately $1.55 million.

Lawmakers on Thursday were split along the same lines as in the February vote -- with Councilmen Robert A. Anderson Jr., Glenn A. Choolokian and Andrew P. Touma voting in favor of the deal, while Chairman Charles A. Walker and Councilwoman Kristen M. Grandinetti voted against it.

It was revealed at the passage of the April 30 deadline that the state's economic development agency in Niagara Falls had made a $5 million offer to buy the building and 2.3-acre property earlier this year.

Grenga previously said there was no offer from the state, called the state agency's actions an "offer to assist."

email: abesecker@buffnews.com

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(c)2014 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.)

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Source: Buffalo News (NY)


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