I-Team 10: Medley Centre gets deadline

Posted at: 02/04/2014 11:56 AM
Updated at: 02/04/2014 5:47 PM
By: Brett Davidsen

It is an ultimatum and it involves the Medley Centre Project in Irondequout, which has received millions of dollars in tax breaks.

On Monday, the owners missed another payment. On Tuesday, officials have given the owners of the mall a new deadline to pay a past due amount, totaling almost $4 million. According to the letter sent to the developer, Scott Congel, from the town of Irondequoit, if that deadline isn’t met, his PILOT or payment in lieu of taxes agreement will be terminated.

The town drafted the letter and it was also signed by the county and the East Irondequoit School District, showing solidarity by the taxing jurisdictions to put the owner of the moribund mall on notice, saying essentially: pay up by May 1 or the tax breaks end.

Adam Bello, Irondequoit Town Supervisor, said,  “We're not going to allow taxpayers in Irondequoit to continue to subsidize the project when there's no activity going on and the developer owes us these payments."

The owner of the mall, Scott Congel of Bersin Properties, owes an annual base payment of $392,000 and a supplemental payment of almost $3.5 million. That supplemental payment kicked in when Congel failed to meet construction milestones. The original deadline to make those payments was Monday.

Congel was given tax breaks in return for his promise to transform the dying mall into an upscale mix of residential, retail and hotel space. But nearly five year later, there’s no visible sign of progress. Congel has argued that he needs a re-negotiated better tax agreement in order to secure the financing to go forward with the project, but town supervisor Adam Bello says there won’t be any renegotiating until Congel pays what is already owed. If the total payment of almost $4 million isn’t made by May 1, they will move to terminate the tax agreement.

Adam Bello, Irondequoit Town Supervisor, said, "We made a good faith agreement with him four years ago. He agreed to pay us this money or invest in the property in exchange for property tax breaks. So far to date the only people to uphold their end of the bargain is the Irondequoit taxpayers. And so, time's up.”

Late last week, Congel did send over a proposal to the town, school district and county that included terms of a new agreement and a payment plan. In a press release Tuesday, Congel’s partner, James Giuliano said, “We continue to hope we can all work together to find a solution and begin creating jobs. We have to remember that the primary goal is to get this project started. Our proposal does that while protecting the rights of the parties.”

To read the entire statement, click here.