ELLICOTTVILLE — Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency board members reacted with interest Thursday to an application for tax breaks for a $2.4 million Scandinavian Spa in Ellicottville.
Board members spoke by phone with developer Travis Mayer, the former Olympic skier who trained at Holiday Valley prior to winning a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
The 5.4-acre site for Scandinavian Spas Ellicottville LLC, is at the end of Snowpine Village Road currently owned by Holiday Valley.
Mayer and his wife, Elisabeth, are expected to close on the purchase soon. They said they hope to begin construction in April providing the necessary town permits are received. About 30 jobs will be created during construction, with most being from Cattaraugus County, Mayer told the IDA board. A Buffalo or Rochester contractor will be selected soon.
Plans call for six structures with about 14,000 square feet of indoor space. There will be a reception/check-in area, limited service cafe, locker rooms, massage rooms and a variety of saunas.
The spa design is based on traditional Finnish and Icelandic hydrotherapy regimens in which guests alternate between hot, cold and relaxation.
Travis, who lives in Steamboat, Colo., is a former CEO of Interwest Resorts, a $1.5 billion publicly traded operator and developer of mountain resorts, heli-skiing and hospitality properties. Elisabeth Mayer was vice president of corporate finance and investor relations at Interwest Resorts.
A 2020 opening is planned. The facility will be a year-round spa open seven days a week, Mayer said. Plans call for three full-time and 14 full- and part-time employees by the third year.
“Glad to have you in town,” IDA board member Joseph Snyder told the Mayers.
“It’s a great addition to the whole area,” added Thomas Buffamante, IDA chairman.
Scandinavian Spas Ellicottville LLC is seeking sales tax abatement for materials and furnishings, and a 15-year tourism P.I.L.O.T. (payment in lieu of taxes). A public hearing will be scheduled on the project over the next several weeks. The IDA board will vote on the tax breaks at its March meeting.
Mayer told the IDA board the tax breaks “make a big difference to the economics of the project.”
Wiktor thanked Mayer for deciding “to relocate here and invest in Cattaraugus County.”
New York residents would make up 40 percent of visitors, mostly from outside Cattaraugus County. About half would come from Ohio and Ontario, and 8 percent from Pennsylvania.
Corey Wiktor, IDA executive director, said the Scandinavian Spa is unlike anything in the area. The Mayers settled on Ellicottville after an extensive search. Travis Mayer grew up in Orchard Park and his parents have a home in the Ellicottville area.
The IDA also called for a public hearing on an application from Cutco Corp., the Olean cutlery manufacturer, which plans to spend nearly $1 million on software and information technology in the coming months.
Wiktor said the sales tax exemption is worth an estimated $50,000 to $60,000, depending on how much the company spends through Cutco Corp., Vector Marketing and K-Bar Knives.
“It will help preserve 600 jobs,” he said.
Snyder suggested the IDA staff remind other manufacturers of the opportunity for an IDA business sales tax break.
Board member Brent Driscoll, a retired Cutco executive, said the tax break “is a positive for the county. It’s helping a major employer.” He said he is retired from the company and owns none of its stock. The company will probably re-invest the savings, he added.
“Whatever we can do, even if it’s small, we ought to reach out,” Driscoll added.
HK Olean Hotel, the Buffalo developer of a 92-room Hampton Inn at Olean Gateway on Buffalo Street in Olean, requested a fixed fee P.I.L.O.T. rather than a percentage during years 10-15. During years 1-10, the taxes are fully abated. The corporation will continue to pay about $6,600 a year in property taxes on the parcel. Only the improvements are subject to the tax breaks. After year 15, the hotel will be fully on the tax rolls.
The original application for the Gateway project — including the hotel and retail space — was received in 2014.
The IDA board granted Sunny Olean LLC, the company owned by Jeff Belt that is redeveloping buildings at 110-116 W. State St., a one-year extension of its sales tax exemption letter. The project is 85 percent complete.
A request was approved from Homeridae Inc., the company building the solar farm between Homer Street and Interstate 86, to delay its P.I.L.O.T. for one year due to construction delays. The project will provide energy credits for the city of Olean. The parent company has two other solar farms in the city, Solean and Solean West, benefitting St. Bonaventure University and Olean General Hospital.
Weather has delayed installation of solar panels off Homer Street, Wiktor said. Without the extension, Homeridae’s 15-year P.I.L.O.T. would only be 14 years. The project will probably be ready to connect to the National Grid electric grid in the spring, he said.
The city, Olean City School District and Cattaraugus County will split revenue of $5,000 a megawatt from the solar farm.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)