Updated 03/21/2013 08:07 PM
Tax abatement approved for Ithaca hotel
A major project moves forward in downtown Ithaca with a little help in the form of tax abatements. Tamara Lindstrom tells us about the future hotel and why some say the support should be a two-way street.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ITHACA, N.Y. -- In about a year-and-a-half, the southeast corner of the Ithaca Commons could have a whole new look.
"They have an estimate of 40,000 people coming in and out of that hotel in a year's time. So it will create foot traffic on the commons and restaurants and retail shops will benefit. It will really create a lot more activity on the commons to support more development," said Heather Filiberto director of economic development services at the Tompkins County Area Development.
Construction on the 159 room Marriott is set to begin in the next few months, but not without a little help from the local government.
The Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency voted this week to a tax deal, gradually increasing the percentage of taxes paid until the hotel pays full taxes in ten years.
"So they'll continue to pay the base taxes that they're paying on the vacant parcel now. It's estimated over the next ten years that will generate about $3.6 million in property tax," Filiberto said.
But not everyone agreed to the plan.
"My concern is that we're giving up a lot of tax revenue over a period of ten years. Basically, $3.6 million," said Tompkins County legislator Will Burbank. "And it return for that, I thought it was very reasonable to ask the developer to ensure that all of the workers in the hotel would be getting a base minimum wage."
Developers from Urgo Hotels promised to pay housekeeping staff 150 percent of minimum wage. But some weren't satisfied with the developer's answers to concerns about workplace diversity and whether local contractors would be used.
"We don't have a mechanism in the IDA to require that at this point," Burbank said. "I was looking for some nod from the developer that he would really give that a priority, and I wasn't seeing that."
While Burbank agrees the project will benefit the area overall, he hopes future projects will address these concerns before developers are given a tax break.
The $32 million project is set to begin within three months. The hotel will also include a conference space and restaurant.