IDA Agrees To Tax Breaks For Hotel Lenhart Project

The Hotel Lenhart is pictured. Submitted photo

BEMUS POINT — Chautauqua County has agreed to offer the necessary tax breaks to the new buyers of an iconic Bemus Point hotel and make it viable for the foreseeable future.

During the county Industrial Development Agency meeting, board members approved a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreement for Chautauqua Lake Hospitality LLC, which is buying Hotel Lenhart.

Last month future owners Jill and Bill Curry discussed their $9.9 million plans to remodel and essentially reimagine the hotel. Some of the changes include installing patios, adding a stand-alone bakery and creamery, upgrading the pool so it can be open in the fall and parts of the winter, as well as address significant upgrades in safety.

The Currys want to bring a greenhouse from Lake Champlain to the Bemus Point hotel and use it as a solarium. The employee housing will be relocated and the current housing area will be turned into a spa.

The hotel has 57 rooms. It will be reduced to 40 so every room can have a bathroom and some rooms can be combined for suites.

Mark Geise, deputy county executive for economic development and Chief Executive Officer of the county IDA, said this project is important on many levels. “It will not only provide a year-round destination spot to invigorate the village of Bemus Point, it will restore one of the five original grand hotels that used to adorn Chautauqua Lake’s shores. I am confident that the Currys will rise to the challenge in creating something truly spectacular. This is a great project for the village, the county, and the region, and I’m glad the CCIDA could play a major role in seeing it to fruition,” he said.

Last month, Jill Curry said the project is contingent upon other funds coming from the state. She said they are seeking a $2 million Restore New York Grant, which the village has applied for. They don’t know when they will hear about that. They are also applying for a second $2 million grant, which is due April 15. Notification for that grant is expected in May or June. They’re also working with M&T Bank. Their own cash in is $1.2 million.

In a news release, Bemus Point Mayor Jeffrey Molnar, said the village board supports the Currys and the project. “We realize that this is a massive undertaking which will be a game changer for the village. We appreciate their passion for not only the historic preservation aspect, but also from their plan to integrate their business into the community by offering their amenities and space for community use. We value their commitment to creating a historically charming but modern and code compliant local and regional destination, providing jobs and opportunities for many. They truly understand Bemus Point’s shared vision of a family friendly community known for its small-town charm, an atmosphere that is welcoming to visitors, and our efforts aimed at maintaining a balance between economic, social, and environmental resources. We have been happy to assist with grant administration and we look forward to the day when the rockers and lawn chairs are again filled,” he said.

The county IDA Board unanimously approved the tax breaks.

County Executive PJ Wendel applauded the project. “The Lenhart is one of the last remaining grand hotels of our Victorian Era. When you look at pictures of Chautauqua County the Lenhart was there. … The investment they’re making and the investment we make in Chautauqua County is going to pay back without a doubt. This iconic landmark will stand the test of time for another hundred years,” he said.


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