GENEVA – Four members of the city’s Industrial Development Agency visited Trinity Episcopal Church this week as part of the agency’s review of a host of tax benefits for a developer planning to convert the property into a hostel, event center and restaurant.
Their general conclusion after touring the church and adjoining buildings that will make up the Trinity Church Inn: it needs a host of costly structural repairs – and the historic church on South Main Street probably didn’t pray if it didn’t. is for a proposed redevelopment plan. by Mark McGroarty.
“This (project) is quite heavy, and it would be a shame to see the building deteriorate further,” IDA board chairwoman Anne Nenneau said at Friday morning’s meeting, where the board unanimously approved a $3.6 million tax relief package for Trinity. Church Inn LLC, led by McGroarty of McGroarty Investments. “I’m worried about what would happen (to the property) if this deal doesn’t go through.”
IDA Vice President Rick Bley agrees.
“I think we’d be doing the city a disservice if we didn’t do this,” he added.
The IDA has approved a 15-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement. PILOT benefits total nearly $3.1 million. Trinity Church Inn would make progressively larger payments to taxing entities, which include the city, school district, library and county.
Without the tax abatement, Trinity would pay approximately $5.1 million to tax entities.
The IDA also approved a sales tax exemption of $456,000 for construction, a reduction of $99,750 for fixtures and equipment and a mortgage registration exemption of $55,000.
McGroarty is also claiming state and federal historical tax credits.
As church property it is currently tax exempt. Selling it to Trinity Church Inn LLC would put it on the tax rolls.
The nearly $9.9 million project involves redevelopment of the church and property into a 29-room inn, 73-seat restaurant and 195-seat event space.
The approvals culminate years of legal wrangling and necessary approvals from the city’s zoning and planning boards and pave the way for repairs and rehabilitation of the church building and two others on the property. The shrine’s walls suffered extensive water damage from a leaky roof, and a lack of heat led to plumbing damage. The developer faces a host of other repairs, as well as the costs of creating accommodation, a restaurant and event space.
Trinity Episcopal left the church in 2018 and now worships at 78 Castle St. With a dwindling congregation and limited funds, the church opted to redevelop the property with McGroarty, who has done similar projects, including one in Buffalo . Trinity Church Inn LLC purchases the church property for $340,000.
Other IDA board members agreed with Nenneau and Bley that the city is fortunate to have a developer willing and able to salvage the property, which is nestled in a historic South Main Street neighborhood where a number of residents opposed the project.
“I was in shock to see this (the state of the church),” said IDA board member RJ Passalacqua. “You can tell the life of this building has been ripped out.”
Added member Irene Rodriguez: “I think the benefits are absolutely clear and the cost is worth it.”
“This is going to be a huge undertaking for Mark (McGroarty),” observed fellow IDA board member Ben Vasquez.
The project would create 10-20 full-time jobs and another 15-20 part-time positions within three years of completion. These jobs include 4-5 management positions paying between $60,000 and $100,000, 7-8 administrative positions paying between $35,000 and $60,000, and 15-20 production positions paying $15 per hour. The project would also create a number of temporary jobs in the construction sector.
Lark Hotels, a company that operates a number of hotels across the country, but primarily in New England, is in talks with Trinity Church Inn about running the inn and possibly event space.
McGroarty released a statement on the endorsement late Friday afternoon. Read it at fltimes.com.