New Britain Landowner Wants Tax Break In Costco Project

NEW BRITAIN — The city shouldn't give a tax abatement to restart stalled Costco project, according to the co-owner of the Target property. But if it does, the incentive should go to Target, rather than to Costco, said James Basile in an email sent to the common council.

NEW BRITAIN — The city shouldn't give a tax abatement to restart the stalled Costco project, according to the co-owner of the Target property.

But if it does, the incentive should go to Target, rather than to Costco, said James Basile in an email sent to the common council.

Costco's representatives could have negotiated an agreement to share an entry drive with Target that would have saved money for taxpayers, according to Basile's memo.

But talks broke off after Costco insisted it could build its own driveway for about the same cost, Basile said. He indicated his company is still willing to accommodate a shared entryway if New Britain provides a tax incentive.

But Mayor Erin Stewart on Monday gave a very different account of the complex negotiations that have delayed — and possibly jeopardized — Costco's plan to build a warehouse store alongside Target on Hartford Road.

She said Basile was "adamant" about getting roughly $200,000 a year in rent and a $1 million upfront payment for shared use of the driveway to Target. When Costco balked, Stewart agreed to support a tax abatement that will help recoup the cost of constructing a separate driveway, she said.

"I'm not willing to let this much benefit for the city fall to the wayside," she said.

Stewart and other Costco supporters contend that the city needs long-term tax revenue along with the roughly 220 jobs that Costco would create. She said it makes sense to waive up to $2.1 million in taxes in the first several years if that ensures the store is built in New Britain and not elsewhere. The common council will consider the tax abatement proposal next month.

Stewart said Basile assured the city this spring that he'd work out an arrangement with Costco, but ended up pressing the company for an unrealistic amount — roughly $200,000 a year and a $1 million upfront payment. She said Costco's real estate adviser, Northwest Atlantic, promised the retailer would build a retaining wall, pay for landscaping and do future maintenance in exchange for sharing and widening the Target driveway, but was rebuffed by Basile.

The council will take up the tax abatement proposal next month. On Monday, Republican Alderman Willie Pabon said he'd rather give the tax break than risk losing new jobs. Democratic Alderman Emmanuel Sanchez said Basile's email shows the city may still have a way to bring Basile and Costco to an agreement for a shared driveway that would be less costly for everyone involved

Democratic Alderman David DeFronzo, who has opposed the Costco plan when it surfaced in 2011, said Basile's memo is another reason to vote against a tax break.

"It's clear Costco made the decision to build their own entrance when there was a cheaper alternative available, and now they're trying to pass the bill on to the taxpayers," he said.