What the Hell is a PILOT and Why Does I-Square Need One to Take Off?

What the Hell is a PILOT and Why Does I-Square Need One to Take Off?

This article was scraped from Rochester Subway. This is a blog about Rochester history and urbanism has not been published since 2017. The current owners are now publishing link spam which made me want to preserve this history.. The original article was published October 21, 2012 and can be found here.

Mike and Wendy Nolan attempt to explain the need for a 25 year PILOT tax program for their I-Square project.

   The I-Square project which was widely celebrated when it was     announced last year    has gotten tangled up in "negotiations" over local tax deals. Mike & Wendy Nolan want to invest $13 million to build a 7-building project including a new street, sidewalks and outdoor stage / "town square" area. They say they need a 25 PILOT agreement in order to be able to afford to build and maintain the project they've proposed. The Town of Irondequoit have offered a 10 year PILOT. Both sides seem to have dug in their heals. Today the Nolan's posted a video on YouTube to explain (in detail) their 25 Year PILOT proposal "so that any questions can be answered and any misconceptions cleared up." Watch the video...

What is a PILOT program? Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. These payments are used in the same way as regular tax payments, but are agreed upon in advance. The payment amount typically starts off smaller and gradually increases over time.

I-Square, as proposed, would contain a block of seven buildings near Irondequoit's Titus Avenue-Cooper Road intersection. Titus is at the top of the photo.

Mike Nolan says a 25 year PILOT is essential, not only to limit and accurately predict tax expenses, but also to be able to apply for affordable financing, and other public income sources. Nolan says this will allow him time to recover the initial capital expenses of the project, "especially those that will not generate revenue" like the new road, sidewalks, lighting, and sewers which I-Square will be paying for.

The town supervisor has     suggested

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that if the Nolan's can't afford to build the project without the 20 PILOT they are requesting, perhaps they should scale back the plans. And if they agree to anything more than a 10 year program an unfair precedent will be set for future developments.

Nolan disagrees and points to the unique circumstances of the I-Square project. For example, the Nolan's are not developers - they are citizens of the town who want to invest $13 million of their own money into a project to benefit the town. And, they argue, the pedestrian focused approach to the project's design will make I-Square a unique draw for people who won't otherwise come to Irondequoit from neighboring towns.

A perspective drawing of the I-Square project as originally proposed a year ago.

Well, the video certainly was detailed. But my brain has now glazed over like a doughnut hole. Can't we come up with a better way to help good development projects take hold in Rochester? And I do still think this is a good project, even with all the stupid parking right in the middle of the "town square."

What do you think?

Chris Gemignani

Chris Gemignani

Rochester, NY, USA