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Tax breaks approved for two Vista projects

Cunningham speaks out against abatements, two applications delayed

— Bethlehem’s Industrial Development Agency has approved tax breaks for two medical office buildings proposed to be built within the Vista Technology Park in Slingerlands.

At an IDA meeting held on Friday, June 22, members reviewed the applications submitted by developers before granting tier II abatements to both projects. A public hearing had been held earlier in the month to give residents an opportunity to comment. Two community members spoke out against the tax breaks, including Chris Kidera, co-chairwoman of the town’s Budget Advisory Committee.

Originally, abatements had been asked for four projects within the park. At the meeting, developers said they would like more time before the IDA considers the applications for two buildings that would house retail businesses. They were removed from the meeting’s agenda and will be considered at a later date.

Mike Morelli, director of Economic Development and Planning for the town, said plans for Vista call for just 20 percent of space within the park to be filled by retail-like businesses. The remainder of the site’s space is be reserved for professional office buildings and technology users.

“The code itself allows (a 70-30 percent ratio,) but the Town Board felt the primary goal of the Vista project was as an office park, ideally with technology-based businesses,” said Morelli.

IDA members said a precedent had been set for granting medical buildings tier II tax abatement consideration.

The approved deals include sales tax and mortgage recording tax abatements, along with a 50 percent abatement off the applicant’s property taxes in the first year. This declines by 5 percent per year for 10 years until the property is fully on the tax rolls.

One of the buildings would be a single floor structure of 6,000 square feet that would house the medical practice of Dr. Lev Barats from Community Care Professionals. The building is a Columbia Development project that is being overseen by Thomas Keaney, a former employee of BBL Construction, the company hired to build the Vista Technology Park.

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