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County Agency Approves Tax Break For Student Housing Project

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Despite opposition from the Mayor's Office, a Broome County agency gave the go-ahead to a tax break for a student housing complex in downtown Binghamton.

Developer Leslie Westreich wants to develop 19 and 21 chenango street into a 94-unit, 284-bed student housing complex. Friday The Agency, formerly the Broome County Industrial Development Agency, approved a PILOT agreement for the project. The PILOT - or Payment in Lieu of Taxes - agreement would reduce the tax obligation of the building by $1.6 million over the course of ten years - that according to City of Binghamton Economic Director Robert Murphy, who opposed the PILOT agreement.

"We'll deal with that and we'll try to strengthen cooperation between the City and the County on this. But, again, there's some disappointment. I think they missed an opportunity to make some strategic partnerships with the city on this," said Murphy.

"(The developer's) commitment to the local economy was the real reason why the Board, or some of the Board, supported this. I really believe that he did provide a lot of market information that shows the need for this type of housing," said Kevin McLaughlin, Executive Director of The Agency.

The Agency voted for the pilot by a 6-3 vote. McGlaughlin says as the need for student housing becomes satisfied the agency may be less inclined to approve pilot agreements for student housing projects.