I-Team 10 Investigation: Dodging our questions

Posted at: 09/06/2013 5:15 PM
Updated at: 09/06/2013 7:00 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

You can't miss it when you drive by on Route 104! A lot of people want to know why nothing has been done with the former Irondequoit Mall!
On Friday, the man who owns Medley Centre was in town. The owner gave I-Team 10 the “run around”, avoiding their questions. Scott Congel was given tax breaks, but instead of progress, he's missed deadlines. It's been years since promises were made to renovate and update the former mall. Yet those promises have not been filled. 
Congel was in town to talk to the people who gave him those tax breaks. But it was rather a bizarre scene as the developer again attempted to dodge questions about his plans.
Medley Centre owner Scott Congel showed up at Harris Beach Law Firm early for his closed door meeting. On tap, a frank discussion with public officials about his stalled development project. But when the meeting ended, Congel refused to come out and answer our questions.  Instead, he sent I-Team 10 chasing around the building trying to catch up with him as he attempted to duck out a side door and even the loading dock in hopes of avoiding our cameras.
It's understandable Congel wouldn't want to answer to the public. He's received millions of dollars in tax breaks from a pilot agreement between his company and the town of Irondequoit, the East Irondequoit School District and COMIDA. Judy Seil, head of the Economic Development Agency, wasn't interested in answering I-Team's questions Friday.
I-Team 10's Brett Davidsen said, “Judy, can you tell us about the nature of the discussions?”
Judy Seil said, "Just, all parties trying to figure out how to get this project to work."
Davidsen said, “Is he now in default of that pilot agreement?”
Dan Delaus (off camera) said, “Judy, that's a legal conclusion. Let's go."
Congel had promised to build a $260 million dollar mixed use complex of shopping, hotels, condos and businesses. But five years later, there's been no visible sign of progress. While Seil says Congel is up to date on his pilot payments, no one could tell us if he's any closer to securing financing to build the project.
John Abbott, East Irondequoit School District, said, "We know he's been talking with people on Wall Street in a substantive way. What does that mean for his actual financing plan? We don't know yet."
What everyone seems to agree on is that Congel has not met a deadline to have invested $165 million dollars in the project, triggering millions of dollars in penalties due early next year. Congel is reportedly trying to have his deadlines extended. But even before any development can happen, three vacant, graffiti covered buildings on the Ridge Road site need to be torn down. The town supervisor says there are code enforcement issues that can no longer be ignored and she says she gave Congel an ultimatum today.
Mary Joyce D'Aurizio, Irondequoit Supervisor, said, "Those buildings need to come down before September 15."
Davidsen said, “What if he's unwilling to do it by that deadline?”
D'Aurizio said, "Then I think any other talks of anything probably would not occur."
There have also been speculation that Congel has been in discussions with the Senecas to build a casino on this site, but a new pilot agreement would have to be negotiated because the current deal forbids it. I-Team 10 asked D'Aurizio if a casino came up during their meeting Friday, she said they did not have that discussion.