Phillips Hardware applies to the IDA for tax exemptions

— From C2 Design Group 
Same location, new store: Jonathan Phillips, president and owner of Phillips Hardware, wants to build a new hardware store on Route 158, near Route 146. Phillips also plans to build a convenience store with Dunkin’ and gas pumps. 

GUILDERLAND — Phillips Hardware is applying to the Guilderland Industrial Development Agency for about $316,000 in tax breaks — including a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT — for its project of expanding its hardware store and building a gas station and convenience store at the corner of routes 158 and 146.

The IDA plans to consider the application at its next meeting, on March 11. Donald Csaposs, the IDA’s chief executive officer, said this week that he hopes to issue a recommendation on the application on March 7.

At a public hearing on Feb. 28, Jonathan Phillips, president and owner of Phillips Hardware, told the IDA board and the members of the public in attendance that the current hardware store is “in much decay.” He said the company had two choices: “Sell the land, or build a new hardware store on the land.” Phillips wants to build “a bigger store that can service the future,” he said.

Four town residents spoke at the hearing, all in favor of granting tax exemptions to the local, long-established company. Dan Abbruzzese, co-owner of Orchard Creek Public Golf Club on Dunnsville Road, said, “Anything you can do to make this guy’s life easier, do it. This guy’s putting his life and his family’s life on the line to make this happen. Government regulations, minimum wage, everything is against business owners in New York.”

Abbruzzese added, “I know what he’s going through, because I lived it. I wish I had it, because we really needed it 20 years ago when were trying to build a business.”

Phillips Hardware was incorporated in 1965, according to the company’s IDA application.

The company plans to first build a new 15,000-square-foot hardware store on Route 158, then tear down the existing 7,000-square-foot hardware store and build in its place a 5,000-square-foot convenience store that includes a Dunkin’ within it.

The application to the IDA lists the amount of funds expended on the project over the last three years as $175,000.

Phillips is asking for about $316,000 in exemptions, including sales-tax exemptions of approximately $188,000, mortgage-recording tax exemptions of about $40,000, and a PILOT of about $87,000.

Csaposs explained the way the PILOT, if approved, would work: The property owner would pay property taxes on half of the full assessed value of the property for five years; then the percentage would ramp up at 10 percent per year until it reached 100 percent in the 10th year.

The company estimates the total cost of building the new hardware store and the convenience store with gas pumps is $4,726,000, Csaposs said.

The application says that the project will create five permanent jobs — three of them full-time, and two of them part-time, with average annual salaries between $12,000 and $35,000. This will double the company’s local employment, the application says.

Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs was asked by the IDA to provide it with a market analysis of the area and to inform it “whether the area is underserved by current hardware providers and may therefore qualify for financial assistance from the IDA.”

The analysis concludes that, while the area is well served by various types of stores offering building materials, “opportunities for growth are strong within the area.”

It says, “Hardware stores that are successful are those that can differentiate themselves from the big box retailers in terms of product offerings, level of service, customer engagement, and community involvement. By selling brands like Carhartt and offering services like small engine repair, Phillips Hardware reaches a market that stores like Home Depot are unable to serve.”

The market analysis states that there is a current unmet need for gasoline sales in the market area and that the complementary uses will drive additional business to the hardware store. It also says that there are only four traditional hardware stores in the market area, and that Phillips is the only one on the western edge of the trade area “and likely services consumers from beyond this boundary.”

However, the analysis also notes that study of sales in the trade area suggests a possible saturation of hardware goods. It observes, “The existence of a Home Depot within the trade area however does create some concern about the long-term viability of smaller, local hardware stores.”

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