Saratoga County IDA awards benefits to Sonny Bonacio, builder of the $18M project

Section: Business,  Page: D1

Date: Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Downtown could get its first movie theater complex after the developer of the $18 million project won approval for $956,653 in tax breaks Monday.

The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency voted to grant builder Sonny Bonacio the property, sales and mortgage tax breaks over 10 years for the construction of an 11-screen movie theater at 19 Railroad Place. Bonacio Construction would have to spend about $110,000 to receive the benefits, meaning its total savings would come to an estimated $846,873, IDA Board Vice Chairman Rick Dunn said.

Bonacio had sought $1.3 million in tax cuts for the project. The structure would contain a 24,000-square-foot ground floor containing 770 total theater seats, and two higher floors with 36,000 square feet of leased office space that would not be eligible for the tax breaks.

Under the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan approved Monday, Bonacio will save about $521,000 in property taxes, $311,500 in sales tax abatements and an estimated $124,000 in mortgage tax breaks, though that could rise to $140,000, Dunn said.

He would not have to pay taxes on the movie theater for five years, and would be responsible for 10 percent of total taxes in the sixth year, 30 percent in the seventh year, 50 percent in the eighth year, 70 percent in its ninth year and 90 percent in its 10th year, Dunn said.

The vote recognized the importance of tourism to the city and county, IDA Board Chairman Ray Callanan said.

"Saratoga Springs is in the tourist business," Callanan said, "This will be an additional attraction that they'll have."

Tax allocations from the project are 63 percent to the city school district, 25 percent to the city and 12 percent to the county.

The Planning Board approved the theater and office space plan last week. The project still requires approval from the Design Review Commission. Bonacio is working to sign a theater operator for the space, planners said.

He told the Saratogian he wants to break ground later this year for an opening in 2013.

Members of the City Council attended Monday's IDA meeting to announce their support for the tax breaks. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said a theater could bring more people into the city and expand the tax base.

"Especially if the resulting theater is attractive to the broad spectrum of the movie-going public, if it shows a wide variety of films, or perhaps offers a variety of concessions appealing to mature tastes, as well as to children and teens," she said.

dyusko@timesunion.com - 518-454-5353 - @DAYusko