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Tompkins acquiring building at Main and Center to expand customer service center

By Howard B. Owens

It seems hard to believe, but Tompkins Insurance has outgrown its space in the Bank of Castile building at 90 Main St., Batavia, according to Executive VP David Boyce.

Boyce confirmed this afternoon that Tompkins is in the process of acquiring the two-story commercial building at the corner of Main and Center streets with the intention of expanding its call center in that location.

"We have had great success in the bank building across the street, but I didn't think we would outgrow it in nine years," Boyce said. "I guess that was a little short-sighted on my part and Jim Fulmer's, but we've had great success hiring great people from the area."

The call center, Boyce said, is a "care center" in Tompkins vernacular. It's where customer service reps field incoming phone calls from the company's 36,000 private insurance clients.

Tompkins is acquiring the building from Ken Mistler, who owns as many as 10 Downtown properties. Its primary tenants are both on the first floor -- WBTA AM-1490 and Optique Optical.

Boyce said he would defer for the time being in sharing the purchase price but said the company will be making a significant investment in renovating the second floor of the structure.

The property at 113 Main St., is assessed at $325,000.

Boyce said the company is likely to apply to Genesee County Economic Development Center for a sales tax exemption on the building renovations and a PILOT on any increase in accessed value.

Jeff Allen

From a standpoint of tax breaks, isn't it a zero sum game? A business vacates space on Main St to move across the street to another space on Main St.

Mar 1, 2014, 9:18pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

I don't believe it's vacating space. It's expanding. To whatever respect seats are being moved from one location to the other, it opens up space at 90 Main for further growth.

Mar 1, 2014, 10:28pm Permalink
Jeff Allen

I guess I don't understand the purpose of tax breaks then. I was always under the impression that they were there as a deal closer when a business was considering a move or expansion and needed the break to make it viable, not one that had successful growth forcing the expansion and had already made the deal without the incentive. I also didn't think open space in downtown Batavia was at a premium right now. I'm glad for for the growth with Thompkins but it just seems like a tax break here would have questionable potential for payoff.

Mar 1, 2014, 10:54pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

The way the rules are written is tax breaks are available to businesses that are expanding. Any business would be foolish to turn down the chance to save money.

Mar 1, 2014, 11:05pm Permalink
Jeff Allen

It would be foolish for a business not to apply, but would it also be foolish for it to be granted when you still end up with the same number of empty spaces in downtown Batavia, which was my original point.

Mar 1, 2014, 11:18pm Permalink

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