Posted at: 11/19/2012 2:24 PM
Updated at: 11/19/2012 6:18 PM
By: Ray Levato
News 10NBC learned that a new performing arts center may be headed for the former Irondequoit Mall. The Rochester Broadway Theatre League is currently in talks with the mall's developer Scott Congel.
But there are sticking points. One of those sticking points is financing. A RBTL board member told News10NBCthat there is a memorandum of understanding with the mall owner and they are negotiating an operating agreement. Irondequoit's gain would be downtown Rochester’s loss.
The Rochester Broadway Theatre League's home for touring road shows has been the Auditorium Theater on East Main Street. But the RBTL says it's too small.
Three years ago this month, the owner of the former Irondequoit Mall proposed as an alternative site to the Auditorium Theater. It would have 3,000 seats. The Irondequoit town supervisor says a majority of the town residents had been in support of the RBTL coming to what the sign still says is Medley Center.
Mary Joyce D'Aurizio, Irondequoit Supervisor, said, “The city definitely wanted it to remain in the city but the logistics of the operations of the RBTL was a perfect fit at the Medley Center. All the roads leading to the mall are county and state roads. It has the parking. The infrastructure is all in place.”
News10NBC asked shoppers at the Target store adjacent to the mall.
Lynn Phillips said, “I think this is a great idea. This is located better for me. I live in Penfield and work in Irondequoit. I'd rather come here than downtown.”
Except for Sears and Macy’s, the mall has sat empty for years. On Monday night, the East Irondequoit school district is expected to site Congel for not fulfilling a $90 million investment that he promised to make by last April. Deputy Superintendent John Abbott says the district has to protect its taxpayers.
Abbott said, “He got a tax break and there were conditions under which he got the tax break. And he didn't live up to those conditions.”
D'Aurizio said, “I know there are ongoing negotiations. Financing is a problem. I know the financing will continue to plague the project and we hope he is able to secure that financing.”
But one town resident doesn't support a performing arts center if the mall continues to languish.
Kathy Volo said, “We're all pretty disgusted that he hasn't come forward and done anything. He needs to pony up some money.”
Developer Congel promised restaurants, a hotel, residential housing and new shopping. He's part of the family that owns Carousel Mall and Destiny USA in Syracuse.
The Rochester Broadway Theatre League is expected to announce details on Tuesday along with a pricetag on this.