Trinity Episcopal Church promoter seeking tax abatements | News

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GENEVA – In December, the city’s Industrial Development Agency approved a multimillion-dollar tax abatement for Lake’s Edge Seneca, a hotel, restaurant and events center due to begin construction next month on Lochland Road.

Now, a developer seeking to provide the same amenities with the redevelopment of Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street South is also seeking tax relief.

Mark McGroarty of McGroarty Investments presented his plans to IDA, which include redeveloping the church into a hostel, events center and restaurant. The property is approximately two miles north of the former American Legion property in Geneva where Lake’s Edge will be built.

Lake’s Edge and Trinity would be the third and fourth accommodation businesses along Route 14 south of downtown, joining Belhurst and Geneva On The Lake.

After persevering through nearly four years of legal battles, the Trinity project received final approvals from the city’s planning board in July 2021. McGroarty hopes to begin construction in July.

“It’s encouraging to see he’s on the right track,” said IDA President Anne Nenneau.

“This project has been on the wings for quite a while,” McGroarty told the board. “We never lost our focus on our end goal.”

He said the Trinity hostel will likely have 26 to 27 rooms, as well as a 73-seat restaurant and event space with a capacity of 195 people.

However, the historic church, which was rebuilt following a fire in the 1930s, faces ‘preservation costs’ of around $1.8 million that ‘essentially produce no revenue’ , McGroarty explained. That includes a new roof, he noted. Water from a number of roof leaks seeped into the walls of the shrine and caused extensive damage to the interior.

To illustrate the challenge ahead, McGroarty said that even with a new roof, it will take 8 to 12 months for the inner walls of the sanctuary to dry out so they can be replastered.

Plumbing and electrics will also need to be replaced, he noted.

“Does anyone have the question, ‘Why am I doing this?’ asked McGroarty, before adding that it boils down to his love of preserving history.

McGroarty said Trinity plays an important role in the architectural character of the South Main Street Historic District.

“I’m really excited to see the project come to fruition,” he told IDA.

He said Trinity needed a tax abatement “to stabilize the asset and offset some of our construction costs” and operating costs.

Then there are the unknowns, he said.

“We know we’re going to have unforeseen costs due to the age (of the building),” he explained.

Trinity has not submitted a tax abatement plan, which would likely include a payment-in-lieu agreement that would reduce the level of taxation on a sliding scale for a period of 10 years or more.

Nenneau said the IDA would like to consider a tax abatement proposal from McGroarty at its March 6 meeting. The agency should hold a public hearing on incentives before adopting a package.

Although the tax breaks for Lake’s Edge faced significant criticism – ultimately they were cut by about $1 million – McGroarty argues that the two projects are not comparable when it comes to needing help financial.

“This is not a normal request like Legion property,” he said on Monday. “The request is based on the safeguarding of an important historic building; costs related to the deterioration of buildings (no heating for three years); costs associated with the preservation of buildings; and the additional costs associated with an existing structure.

He noted that 20 to 30 full-time jobs will be created, along with many part-time jobs for events.

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