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Medley meeting ends with few answers
Pittsford, N.Y. - The owner of the Medley Centre Mall property in Irondequoit met behind closed doors on Friday with county, town, and school district officials.
The meeting reportedly focused on a number of issues surrounding the current tax break deal (or PILOT, Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes) the owner has with local municipalities and the future of development at that property.
After the meeting the Executive Director of COMIDA Judy Seil left abruptly answering only a couple questions before closing her car door on reporters. Seil said that the malls owner, Scott Congel, is up to date on all his PILOT payments.
Irondequoit Town Supervisor Mary Joyce DAurizio gladly answered questions based on the information she had. DAurizio said her most pressing demand of Congel is that he tear down three dilapidated buildings on the site by September 15th. She feels the old car dealership building, former insurance company building, and a vacant home on the property present public safety risks. DAurizio admits any presence of asbestos in those buildings could delay that deadline.
Five years ago Congel laid out plans to convert the old mall property to a mixed-use facility with housing, apartments, retail, and even a performing arts center and theatre district with boutique stores. The investment is expected to be hundreds of millions of dollars but Congel has already failed to meet at least one investment goal written into the tax break deal.
After failing to show more than $160 million in investment at the property by April 2013 Congel is expected to pay penalties or supplemental payments by the end of January.
"Yes it's very frustrating, DAurizio said of the process and lack of progress. And I have to think about our residents and what they consider an eye sore up on Ridge Road particularly since we've been able to move so much economic development in recent years.
When asked if how sincere she believes Congel to be when it comes to his plans for developing the Medley Centre property DAurizio said, He is obviously one of the biggest mall developers; it is a very difficult project.
He talks about various possibilities yes, DAurizio said when asked if Congel has indicated if he has secured financing for this project. When asked if she believes Congel actually has obtained financing for this project DAurizio paused for nearly seven seconds before answering, I'm always more content if I've seen something in writing.
"Financing has clearly been a challenge, said John Abbott, the East Irondequoit Central School District Deputy Superintendent. There is no question financing is a challenge, it was known to be a challenge at the time that the PILOT was written.
The school district still contends that Congel also failed to meet investment goals in 2012. They have asked for an additional supplemental payment to be made but Abbott said the district is not budgeting for that.
Congel spoke briefly to 13WHAM News on Thursday but after this Friday meeting he appeared to go to great lengths to avoid the media and various news cameras. A man drove his SUV around the Harris Beach Law Firm building where the meeting took place before entering a loading dock area on the side of the building.
13WHAM News spotted Congel briefly as he attempted to exit the building through a door on the loading dock but he then appeared to duck back inside once he spotted cameras and reporters. For many minutes the SUV remained in the loading dock area before finally leaving the property entirely without Congel inside.
How, when, or where Scott Congel finally left the Harris Beach building on Friday is not known despite news crews circling the premises for nearly an hour.