Lake Ridge Fruit plans $3 million expansion in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Company will add 25,200-square-foot CA storage

GAINES – A fruit-packing company owned by local farmers is planning a $3 million expansion with a new controlled-atmosphere storage building.

Lake Ridge Fruit could break ground on the 25,200-square-foot building next week, said John Russell, general manager and partner for the company at 14234 Ridge Rd. The addition will boost Lake Ridge’s storage capacity by 200,000 bushels a year.

“This is driven by the need to stay ahead of the curve and be at the leading edge of the industry,” Russell said today.

Many of Lake Ridge’s member growers have recently planted more acres of popular apple varieties, such as Honeycrisp and SweeTango. The new CA storage will help keep those apples fresh after harvest. Russell also said Lake Ridge has been renting some storage from other companies and won’t need to do that after the expansion.

The addition is expected to be ready for this fall’s apple harvest. Lake Ridge will add one position as part of the project. The addition will retain 60 other full-time positions.

“It’s an employment keeper,” Russell said about the addition. “It will allow us to keep jobs.”

Lake Ridge did a $3 million project in 2010 that added storage space and a new packing line. Russell said the company, which formed in 1982, is determined to stay at the forefront of the industry.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency today approved a tax incentive plan that will save the company $202,406 over 10 years. Lake Ridge will receive a 50 percent property tax abatement on the new addition for the first year, and then will pay 5 percent more until the building is at full taxable value. That will save the company $83,164 in property taxes in the next decade.

Lake Ridge is agreeing to pay $196,570 in “payment in lieu of taxes” for the new building over the next 10 years to the town, county and Albion Central School.

The company also has been approved for a sales tax exemption on $1,207,010 in equipment costs, which will save Lake Ridge $96,561. The company also was approved for a $22,681 “Buy Orleans” incentive.

As part of the PILOT and tax incentive deal, Lake Ridge also agreed to pay the EDA $56,380 for administration services or 2 percent of the overall costs.

“This is another great agricultural project for our county,” Jim Whipple, Orleans EDA chief executive officer, told the EDA board of directors.