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Morelle Wants State to Look Into Medley Tax Credits

Job creation hasn't happened as site languishes.
Assemblyman Joe Morelle wants the state to look into the nearly $4 million of tax credits awarded to Medley Centre under the Empire Zone program. 

The program is supposed to award job creation and development. But the mall has languished since Congel purchased it in 2008. Congel has said his financing fell through because of the recession. As a result, he was not able to meet investment deadlines spelled out in his payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the Town of Irondequoit, East Irondequoit School District and Monroe County. Those entities say Congel owes nearly $4 million in fees because he missed those deadlines. They've given him until May 1 to pay up.

Congel has been trying to negotiate a new PILOT agreement with new deadlines. He cannot get financing without a new PILOT. If that happens, Congel could walk away and sue the governments.

In a letter to Empire State Development, Morelle said Congel is not meeting his obligations and there are doubts about whether he can redevelop the property. Morelle said Congel has been unwilling to meet. Morelle said he's open to working with Congel if he can prove he has the financial backing.

"It may no longer be a viable project for this owner, but hopefully we can find a way forward that means development of the property even if it means with another developer," said Morelle.

Congel responded, "Empire Zone status is constantly audited as Assemblyman Morelle should know.   We find it unfortunate that he has chosen to try to politicize this situation while we are working with government officials to advance this project.  As we indicated to Assemblyman Morelle , we are available to meet with him at any time.  He has chosen not to schedule the meeting." 

RBTL Chairman Arnold Rothschild, who has been working with Congel to build a performing arts center at Medley, said a meeting called by labor leaders to discuss the project was canceled by the town supervisor, who objected to the school district not being included. The meeting would have included lenders. Congel believes the school district is blocking the project, and that's why the district wasn't invited. But the district maintains Congel should live up to the PILOT agreement he took on when he purchased the mall.

"We got to get a performing arts center built and the mayor has begun to talk publicly about putting a performing arts center downtown," said Rothschild. "There will come a moment in time when the leadership in Irondequoit advances this project or RBTL has to begin to look at other options 

"To the extent there is still interest on his part to develop the site, we need to work with him through some of these very extreme challenges if we can. In the absence of that he's going to pull out and we're all going to be left with the question what do we do now with the site?" said County Executive Maggie Brooks.

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