Hiawatha Trails seeks $5.8M in tax breaks – The Altamont Enterprise

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland Industrial Development Agency has set an Aug. 24 public hearing for a tax-break request from the developer of 256 senior-living apartments at the former Hiawatha Trails golf course.

 In return for a $70.8 million project, Hiawatha Land Development LLC is seeking about $4.1 million in sales-tax exemptions, about $664,000 in mortgage-recording tax exemptions, and $1.06 million in property-tax exemptions.

Geoffrey Van Epps is the current owner of the site, but Hiawatha Land Development, based in Brooklyn and owned by Isaac Markowitz and Abraham Strulovitch, has an option to buy the land.

In August 2019, seven neighbors in Presidential Estates, across Route 155 from the potential future site of the senior housing project, filed an Article 78 proceeding against the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals; against Van Epps, owner of Hiawatha Trails Executive Golf Course; and against the developer at the time, Tony Carrow. The citizens’ challenge asked the court to annul and vacate all of the decisions the zoning board had made in approving the project. 

But the judge in the case decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing to maintain the legal action and that, even if they did have standing, their petition would still be denied.

The decision was then appealed, but the plaintiffs never filed an appeal brief before the deadline and the lower court’s decision was upheld.

Hiawatha Trails would be a mostly three-story building — with a portion of the building being four stories — with 256 market-rate independent senior-living units at 6025 and 6051 State Farm Road, across from Presidential Way and the Farnsworth Middle School.

Approximately 37 acres of 43.8 acres would remain undisturbed — about 22 acres would be dedicated to the town as open space.

There is a demand for senior housing, states a letter included in the submittal to the IDA.

The letter says there is a limited inventory of independent senior-living apartments in town compared to the number of senior citizens, about 7,250. By 2030, that number is expected to increase to nearly 9,500. If the area is expanded to within a 15-minute drive of Guilderland, the number of seniors becomes nearly 24,000.

Seven jobs with an average annual salary of $40,000 would be expected to be created with the project, the application says. 

The developer would be seeking a $53 million private loan to finance the project, according to the IDA application, and its expected completion date would be December 2024.