Facing an unenthusiastic public and steely Town Board, Park Point New Paltz developer Wilmorite upped the ante last week on how much it proposes to pay in lieu of full taxes into 2039. Shawn Griffin, a lawyer representing Wilmorite, unveiled a new PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) proposal that’s worth more than $12 million in that 25-year period.
“We’d like to bring the largest taxpaying property to the town and village that’s ever been here,” Griffin said. “We’re not looking for a discount. We’re looking for price certainty.”
Wilmorite wants to build Park Point on 50 acres next door to the SUNY New Paltz campus on Route 32. The 732-bed project is expected to cost $50 million to $60 million to build, and it would include 10 apartment buildings for rent by students and three buildings for rent by faculty and staff.
But the company’s bid to get tax abatement through the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency has been controversial.
Griffin told the Town Board that he wanted to start over, and said he believed that substantial misinformation about Park Point had been spread. He accused the media of making hay out of the issue to sell papers.
“Can we look at this as a tax agreement that provides the community with certainty as well as the company with certainty?” he said.
Wilmorite’s lawyers said the Rochester-based firm would now be willing to pay $373,200 in year one — gradually upping PILOT payments to $605,641 by the year 25. During that time, they’d pay Ulster County $1.4 million, the Town of New Paltz $3.9 million, the New Paltz Central School District $6.4 million and another $112,106 for special district payments.
Wilmorite is looking for a tax break on the student rental buildings only. The three faculty buildings would be fully taxed.
Opponents of that tax break contend that, if assessed at $49 million, the rental complex would pay about $1.5 million per year.
While taxes would undoubtedly go up over time, Park Point would likely be reassessed as depreciation took place. So estimating how much taxes it would pay is difficult, since it involves many unknown variables.
Town Board members weren’t really impressed by what they heard from Wilmorite. They’d still prefer full taxation, which Councilman Kevin Barry noted would be the fairest payment mechanism.
“What you’re doing is you’re saving $1.1 million on the backs of our local residents. And that gives you the ability to sell that project for $16 million to $18 million more, after year one, with your long-term capital gains treatment and basically walk away from the deal,” said Barry, who is a real estate lawyer by trade.
When asked by board members what would happen if Park Point was assessed at $44 million, Griffin said it would end the project.
“Then we don’t build this,” the lawyer said. “We won’t do it.”