Medley Centre Owner in Casino Talks

Medley Centre Owner in Casino Talks

The mall owner is talking to the Senecas about a casino, raising questions about last week's Henrietta announcement.
The owner of Medley Centre is in talks with the Seneca Nation about bringing a casino to the struggling mall property, according to two sources. 

In order for Scott Congel to open a casino at Medley Centre, his payment in lieu of taxes agreement  with the Town of Irondequoit, East Irondequoit School District and County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency would have to be revised. The PILOT forbids a casino. 

The town, school district and COMIDA are meeting next Friday to discuss revisions to the PILOT. Congel is in default of the PILOT, since he hasn't met the required benchmarks for investment in the property. They are trying to negotiate a new PILOT. It is likely that Congel will be pay fees and penalties as part of initiating the new agreement. There would be hard "last chance" deadlines in the agreement. Sources say Congel cannot get financing without a revised PILOT.

Sources say revising the PILOT to allow a casino will come up at that meeting. 

Though it's no secret Congel has been interested in a casino, Town Supervisor Mary Joyce D'Aurizio said she had not been informed of casino talks being part of current PILOT negotiations. 

East Irondequoit Assistant Superintendent John Abbott was not aware a casino could come up at next week's meeting. He said Congel has said before he's in talks with the Senecas. Abbott said the reason there's a casino ban in the PILOT is casinos rake in a lot of money and that would affect the taxing jurisdictions.

"We knew up front if a casino would be in the mix, the economics are different," Abbott said. "We're prepared to discuss anything, but he has to live up to the pilot asgreement."

Last week, the Senecas announced they had hired David Flaum to develop a potential casino in the Henrietta area. The Albany Times Union reported the Senecas would pay Flaum $8 million if a Monroe County casino opens. The report also said some of the payments could be improper.

Reached by phone today, Flaum would not answer questions about whether he has an exclusive deal with the Senecas that would preclude the tribe from working with other developers. "It's a private agreement."

The Senecas did not return a call for comment.

Congel bought the mall five years ago. Since then nothing has happened on the property. He has promised a "lifetsyle center," which would include apartments, a performing arts center, a hotel, retail and restaurants. He had been seeking sales tax incremental financing for a $750 million project. Congel has never done a public interview about the project and details of his current plan - and the importance of a casino - are not clear.

In order for a casino to open anywhere in Monroe County, the federal government has to sign off, the state compact with the Senecas has to be revised and the state legislature has to vote to approve.

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