Crossroads says Empire Zone is a good deal for Shandaken

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By Jay Braman Jr.
The developers of the proposed Belleayre Resort say that a tax break plan they are now pursuing is more lucrative for the Town of Shandaken than the plan they were previously considering.
It was announced last week that Crossroads Ventures, the company behind the resort plan, is seeking an Empire Zone designation. The Empire Zone program is a New York State economic development program designed to encourage businesses to locate, expand and create new jobs in the state.‚ÄÇ The purpose of this program is to enable businesses to operate free of New York State taxes for up to 10 years.‚ÄÇ
Crossroads spokesman Paul Rakov says this plan is better for the town than the tax break opportunities originally investigated.
“There is no down-side to this Empire Sub-zone designation for the town. Shandaken gets more money and gets it faster.”
According to Rakov, the town would receive 100 percent of the taxes levied on the property from year one. Under another plan that Crossroads first announced in 2003, the town would get only 50 percent of the taxes in year one, increasing by five percent each year for 10 years.
“Based on an overall project value of $400 million, and adjusting for non-taxable expenses, the town would receive approximately $23.7 million in general and highway taxes over that 10-year period if Empire Sub-zone status is approved,” Rakov said. “If not, the town would receive only $17.4 million – a net loss of $6.3 million – through the abatement program.”
Rakov also suggests that Crossroads is hoping to use the Empire Zone option because it’s best for the town even though there are other options better for Crossroads.
“Two alternative, and more favorable, abatement programs exist for developers and for which the resort would likely qualify. They would result in a net loss to the town of $16.6 million and $22 million over the same 10-year period,” he said.
Rakov said a full description of the Empire Zone plan can be heard at the next Shandaken Town Board meeting, set for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 7 at town hall.
“We plan to speak at the April Shandaken Town Board meeting and request that the board indicate its support of Empire Sub-zone designation for the acreage contained in the Belleayre Resort if/when it is presented as an option by the state,” he said. “We communicated this to all town board members in writing as of two weeks ago.”