IDA takes step forward in Vista financing

The Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency this morning passed a key milestone on the journey to building Vista Boulevard.

The board of that entity voted unanimously in favor of an inducement resolution, a precursor to issuing the tax-free bonds with which it hopes to finance the construction of the 3/4-mile road into the Vista Technology Campus.

The next step in the process will be gaining approval from the taxing districts in the area to collect payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) money to pay off the bonds, which will be sold to investors. The town, Bethlehem Central School District and Albany County all have to sign off on the deal for it to proceed.

Vista stakeholders and members of the IDA should begin visiting those groups in coming days to pitch the plan. The group wants to issue about $6 million in bonds, and still hopes to get $1 million from Albany County that was promised years ago to fund the project's infrastructure.

That promise was contingent on the development of high-tech jobs, though, and so far developers have largely put forward retail tenants and have kept news of interested commercial entities tightly under wraps, citing competitive reasons.

At the IDA meeting, there was talk of how the partnership should proceed in attempting to secure that money. Town Supervisor Sam Messina said the IDA should tackle things one step at a time and get the PILOT agreements cemented.

Or else it's going to get, in my opinion, bogged down, he said.

Time is of the essence, as the buildout of Vista buildings hinges on the construction of Vista Boulevard, which will provide access and utilities to the site. Developers have said some tenants need to be in place by Nov. 15.

IDA board member Joseph Richardson said he's confident the county money will materialize once it's clear the project is underway.

"I think once you put in a bulldozer and start to build the road, that's the time to get the million dollars," he said.

The IDA will be taking over construction of Vista Boulevard and is in the process of hiring the firms needed to build the road. Once completed, it would be handed over to the town.""

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