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Sandy Hill Arts Center

The exterior of the old Masonic Temple building at 216 Main St., which is being redeveloped by William Nikas into the Sandy Hill Arts Center. Two businesses will have grand reopenings this weekend in the building.

FORT EDWARD — The Warren-Washington Industrial Development Agency on Monday granted mortgage and sales tax breaks for the project to redevelop the former Masonic Temple building in Hudson Falls into the Sandy Hill Arts Center.

William Nikas voluntarily withdrew his request for a property tax break for the project to renovate the building at 214-216 Main St. The first floor is going to contain a restaurant and commercial space. The second floor will house the relocated offices of the Council for Prevention. The third and fourth floors will have space for artisans, and the top floor will have open space that can be rented out for functions.

Nikas said he believes that this project would have been eligible for a property tax break through a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.

But he acknowledged the agency is reviewing its policies about how to recapture benefits from projects that do not meet the criteria for job creation.

He had said previously that his project qualified, even if it is not creating many new jobs on-site, because it is redeveloping a building in a distressed community.

But he does not want this project to set a precedent, he said.

“After talking with some community leaders, I thought it would be the better part of valor to withdraw that aspect of the application,” he said.

Nikas would have needed to obtain approval for the tax break from the town of Kingsbury, since it opted out of deferring to the IDA on such decisions.

Instead, Nikas is going to seek a 485-b exemption, which provides a less generous break of 50 percent exemption on the increased value of the new construction in the first year. That decreases by 5 percent each year over 10 years.

The sales and mortgage tax exemptions total about $40,000.

Nikas said that the savings will be about the same as with a payment in lieu of taxes, but the IDA would not be involved. This exemption is provided through the municipality.

Board member Travis Whitehead was the lone no vote on the project.

Nikas said after the meeting that he was happy to get approval.

“It’s been a challenge,” he said.

His priorities are to finish the elevator, fire escape and second floor renovations, so the Council for Prevention can occupy that space, he said.

Some artisans are already occupying the upper floors. The rest of the renovations will be done over time, Nikas said.

“We’re not under the same time constraints,” he said.

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Michael Goot covers politics, business, the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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reporter - Glens Falls, Northern Warren County, business and politics

Reporter for The Post-Star, covering the city of Glens Falls, town and village of Lake George and northern Warren County communities.

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