Editorial: The ShopRite Tech Park?

Folks who have taken the Slingerlands Bypass lately have probably noticed some changes.

Work is well under way on the first stages of the Vista Technology Park, with BBL Construction crews taking down trees, moving earth and laying asphalt to make way for this massive project.

But work continues in the boardroom, as well, as Greg Fry reports this week that the Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency has approved tax breaks for the first three Vista tenants (two banks and a ShopRite grocery store) and is moving ahead on other financing plans.

Now, no one could be happier than us to see things taking off at Vista. It’s been a long time coming, after all. But not unlike some attendees of a recent public hearing on the PILOT tax break programs, we have some concerns attached to these latest developments.

This is the second time the IDA has been involved in spurring Vista ahead, the first being an interesting system of financing for the building of Vista Boulevard. That plan, which is still having details worked out, didn’t actually expose the town or IDA to risk, though. These tax breaks are another beast.

Reader poll

Should developers be given tax breaks to build here?

  • Yes. 15%
  • No. 85%

33 total votes.

They are supposed to be reserved for real economy drivers and large employers. A ShopRite store will surely be good for local consumers and will even provide jobs, but Columbia President Joe Nicolla has refused to discuss the treasured “primary” users in public — the closest we ever got was a hint last winter of a company that works in digital publishing whose business never materialized.

Now, we certainly understand the competitive nature of this game. There is something like a half-dozen developments just like Vista around the Capital District vying for the high-tech tenants flocking to the new home of the GlobalFoundries plant. Tax breaks are one way to “get in the game,” as former Town Supervisor Terri Egan put it, and tipping one’s hand is not the greatest idea.

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