The IDA deal will freeze the taxable value of the new resort on Canandaigua Lake for 10 years

CANANDAIGUA — The Ontario County Industrial Development Agency on Monday granted a 10-year tax relief plan for the $48.5 million hotel and conference center under construction at the site of the former Inn on the Lake. All but one member of the IDA Board voted for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for the redevelopment on 9 acres along the lakefront at 770 S. Main St. in Canandaigua.

“It’s an investment for our children, and they will thank us for that,” said IDA board member Don Culeton, in support of a 10-year freeze on the assessed property value.

The company behind the project — a younger generation of the Sands family who founded global alcoholic beverage giant Constellation Brands Inc. — last week announced more details at a press conference. Renamed “The Lake House on Canandaigua,” the development will offer 125 guest rooms, a timber-frame event barn, pool and year-round hot tub, spa, wellness center, new seawall and boardwalk, accessible kayak launch, meeting rooms and open-concept restaurant with expanded lake view and outdoor seating, along with a re-imagined Sand Bar that was a big attraction at the former Inn on the Lake. It’s campus-like feel will connect with the New York Kitchen located adjacent to the site.

Culeton and other board members, during a roughly 30-minute discussion, talked about leveling the playing field for the project to match a PILOT they granted to the nearby Canandaigua Finger Lakes Resort. “I am concerned with the ability for Inn on the Lake to compete at the same level if their taxes are higher,” said Culeton.

The Canandaigua Finger Lakes Resort, which was stalled for years and became known as “the birdcage,” recently resumed construction. Like the Sands family development, it will offer lakeside hotel rooms, conference center and other similar amenities. Both are scheduled to open next year.

IDA Board member Jeff Gallahan, Manchester town supervisor and member of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors, had voted against the PILOT for Canandaigua Finger Lakes Resort. Gallahan also voted against the PILOT for the redeveloped Inn on the Lake site. He said he can’t justify the lost tax revenue.

“How do we make this up? It becomes difficult. We need to be fair to our taxpayers, too,” Gallahan said.

The Inn on the Lake PILOT will freeze the assessed value of the property at $4.4 million, what it was after The Inn on the Lake was demolished and before any construction began. The property was assessed at $11.1 million before the inn was demolished. Taking more than $6 million off the table in assessment — “I can’t ask taxpayers to support it,” Gallahan said.

At the end of 10 years, the project will be taxed at 100 percent assessment. That was a compromise from the developer’s original proposal. The IDA Board amended the deal from an original 20-year PILOT. That would have allowed the company to pay property taxes only on the undeveloped property for 10 years, then only on 50 percent of the increased assessment based on improvements for the remaining years.

A public hearing the IDA held in July on the proposed PILOT drew comments from many people on all sides. People of all opinions voiced respect and confidence for the Sands family, whose success extends to projects that have uplifted the community including Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center among others.

Residents in support of the PILOT talked about how the project will attract more visitors to the area and help boost the local economy with jobs and increased tax revenue. Arguments against the PILOT pointed to the needs of average people in the Canandaigua area, and the need to keep tax dollars flowing to school districts, municipalities and programs and services that serve the community.

Most Canandaigua City Council members spoke against granting the PILOT at a meeting earlier this summer. City Council members Renée Sutton and Karen White were among those who attended the IDA meeting Monday. They said afterwards they weren’t surprised the IDA Board granted the PILOT. They both held to the opinion the development didn’t need the tax break and would have continued without it.

Sutton said the loss of tax dollars for the 10-year PILOT will be $2.1 million — dollars that would have gone to the county, city and school districts during that period.

Read what citizens had to say at the IDA July Public Hearing on the PILOT:

https://www.co.ontario.ny.us/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_07232019-1292