Dr. Todd E. Shatkin and Daemen University are seeking nearly $394,000 in sales tax breaks for their $7.85 million project to bring a new dental school and physical rehabilitation center to the Amherst college.

Daemen said it lacks the financial resources to cover the real estate project, so Shatkin – whose name will be on both new programs – is taking on the construction and leasing it back to Daemen. But that means he would incur sales taxes that would otherwise not apply if the college did the project directly.

That is why they’re asking the Amherst Industrial Development Agency for the $393,750 in tax breaks, which are already factored into the school’s lease. Otherwise, the project would be put off or reduced so Daemen doesn’t have extra costs.

Shatkin, an Amherst dentist and owner of Shatkin F.I.R.S.T. LLC on Kensington Avenue, is teaming up with nearby Daemen to create the Shatkin School of Dentistry and the Todd and Leslie Shatkin Institute for Mobility Innovation & Technology.

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Shatkin says the school is “expected to draw a substantial number of students from outside of Erie County, likely on an international basis,” and will also provide more graduate school opportunities for local college students than the University at Buffalo Dental School can accommodate. The new school will also include a dental clinic that offers affordable dental care to neighborhood residents and others, while training the students.

That would make it only the second dental school in the eight-county Western New York region, after University at Buffalo, although University of Rochester also has one an hour away.

Amherst dentist Dr. Todd Shatkin of Shatkin Dental Health is partnering with the university to construct the Shatkin College of Dentistry in part of the Phillips Brothers Supply building on Kensington Avenue, close to Shatkin’s Amherst dental facilities and the town’s growing “Medical Spine” along I-290.

The introduction of new programs helps Daemen raise its profile, while also filling a market need for more dentists. The combination of the school and rehab facility – which will help victims of stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries – also will bolster the town’s growing I-290 medical spine and life-sciences industry.

University College signs (copy)

Daemen University is planning to add a school of dentistry, working with Dr. Todd Shatkin.

The two ventures will be academically housed within Daemen’s Department of Natural Sciences, under the health and human services division. But they will be physically located in underused space at 2500 and 2525 Kensington Ave., which are across the street from each other, at the intersection with Bentham Parkway. They are also adjacent to the Shatkin Dental Health medical business, which will support both ventures with dental facilities and expertise.

The one- and two-story building at 2500 Kensington houses Aesthetic Associates Centre, a plastic and dental surgery clinic run by Shatkin and his brother, Dr. Samuel Shatkin. Across the street is the 29,350-square-foot Phillips Brothers Supply office building, which Shatkin would lease with a future option to buy.

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Daemen University’s proposed Shatkin College of Dentistry would be built in unused warehouse space on Kensington Avenue.

Plans by Stieglitz Snyder Architecture and Tredo Engineers call for renovating and equipping the two buildings for Daemen, which will lease the space from Shatkin. Work will consist of a complete buildout of 16,653 square feet at 2525 Kensington – including the addition of a mezzanine level of 4,400 square feet and a new exterior canopy – plus 7,060 square feet at 2500 Kensington.

That will leave Phillips Brothers with 5,736 square feet of retail space and 12,019 square feet of warehouse space in its building.

The project includes 72 parking spaces on 1.24 acres, with Ridgewood Drive redeveloped into a paved surface parking lot.

About $1.5 million in equipment will also be purchased for both the new school and the new institute. Daemen’s Anatomical Sciences Lab will also get “substantial upgrades,” including technology to facilitate virtual education.

Project expenses include $4.8 million for renovation and reconstruction, $2 million for furniture and non-manufacturing equipment, $550,000 for infrastructure and $500,000 in “soft” professional costs. Once they are operating, about 10% of the school’s operating expenses and 25% of the IMIT expenses will stem from research and development activities, according to the application.

About $2 million of the funding will come from developer equity, while $5.85 million will be in the form of bank loans.

The school will offer a three-year dental surgery doctoral degree, with about 40 new students each academic year, starting in August 2023, for a total of 120 students annually. It will employ five full-time faculty and administrators, 22 part-time faculty and five support staff.

Daemen to open high-tech rehab center for mobility patients

The center will offer services not yet available in WNY to patients recovering from strokes and brain and spinal cord injuries – or those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

The mobility institute will focus on the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative and orthopedic conditions, as well as help patients improve their ability to walk with robotic assistance. Using advanced technology, it will address the walking challenges and health needs of the elderly, disabled, chronically ill, disadvantaged, children and veterans. And it will also conduct research and education for students, professionals, patients and caregivers.

It is estimated to serve 2,400 patients annually once it launches, and will employ a clinical director, a clinical aide and an office manager, earning salaries of $50,000 to $120,000.

The Amherst IDA will hold a public hearing on the application on May 5 at 8:30 a.m.

The project is under review by the Amherst Planning Board, but was tabled until next month. The site is already zoned as commercial, but several variances are required. If approved, Shatkin and Daemen want to start construction immediately, with occupancy by Jan. 1, 2024.

This is the second time in five years that Shatkin has sought Amherst IDA tax breaks. In 2017, he received nearly $1 million in relief for a $5.5 million expansion of his business that provides training to medical professionals and manufactures components used in dental surgeries. Shatkin F.I.R.S.T built a 15,000-square-foot expansion at 2500 Kensington, so it could bring in more doctors, nurses and other medical professionals for training.

Retail services like doctors are usually not eligible for IDA tax breaks. However, Amherst IDA Executive Director David Mingoia said the agency specifically excluded the local dental services from the tax benefits, targeting them instead to the training and manufacturing elements of the project. Shatkin had pledged to add four jobs to the previous 22, and now has 31 employees, he added.

The current proposal also has a retail component “by the strictest definition of the state law,” so “we will need to explore whether this is in fact filling an unmet need,” Mingoia said. “We anticipate learning more on this… as teh board deliberates on the applicant’s request.”

By Ellish