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Does IDA Stand For "Industrial Development Agency" or "I Don't Ask"?

Amherst IDA affiliate Amherst Development Corp. abruptly canceled their meeting scheduled for last Friday at 8:30am.

On the agenda were two projects requesting a total of $22 million in low-cost bond financing for the purchase and rehab of existing occupied rental complexes to be used in combination with about $4 million in equity raised from the sale of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHC). The current owners are planning to sell the building to themselves and undertake some modest unit upgrades (about $20,000 per unit) for a total of $6 million in rehab expenses.

Upon review of the application materials on file in the AIDA offices, most notable was the information which was missing in this $28 million project. When asked for the purchase or acquisition cost of the properties, the AIDA response was “assistance does not extend to real estate purchase” so they do not require that information which is viewed as proprietary to the parties. However, resorting to fifth grade math, subtracting the rehab cost ($6 million) and an estimate of project soft costs (perhaps another $6 million) from the total funds available ($28 million) left a substantial amount of money, seemingly for the sale of the property to themselves ($16 million).

Thus the meeting was canceled so someone can ask what is the balance of funds and its use. Or what is the purchase price. And are you really selling it to yourself?

AIDA is supposed to mean “Amherst Industrial Development Agency.” But I think IDA really means “I don’t ask.”

- Michele F. Marconi, Amherst

Marconi is a member of the community group Friends of Mike’s Pond, which is committed to maintaining Williamsville and Snyder’s village-like qualities.

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