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The Destiny USA project in Syracuse will fall far short of its original vision. Instead of being a Disney World-type attraction, it will be just a really big mall.

Syracuse taxpayers are stuck holding the bag because the mall expanded just enough to stay off the tax rolls for 30 years. It does even have to make payments in lieu of taxes.

It’s a pretty incredible development. The Syracuse Post-Standard reports:

(Mall owner Robert) Congel’s only payments to the city will be the balance he owes on a $60 million project fee he has to pay to the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency for issuing bonds on the project. That will amount to about $3.1 million per year for about six more years.

(Mayor Stephanie) Miner said she was not surprised by Congel’s announcement that he was finished building his project.

“I believed Syracuse’s destiny was not a shopping mall. I continue to believe that now,” said Miner, who was a critic of the Destiny USA tax deal.

Atlantic Cities declared the project “Dead Pipe Dream of the Day” and posted a video of the original vision.

The project’s fate immediately raised eyebrows in Rochester, where Congel’s son, Scott, is shopping a $750 million proposal to transform Medley Centre. Like Destiny, Medley is running up against PILOT deadlines and has not yet delivered. Like Destiny, Medley has a grand plan that relies on heavy taxpayer investment.

Reuters columnist and tax expert told 13WHAM News:

“The two different Congel family projects, Destiny in Syracuse and Medley here, are basically the same project. It’s just a function of scale and they’re both premised on the idea taxpayers should put up the capital,” said Johnston. “If there’s a sound investment, the market will finance it. If it’s not a sound investment, why would the taxpayers want to put a penny into it?”

Will Destiny’s fate be Medley’s destiny? Scott Congel said in a statement they are very different projects. He must make his case to the public.

4 Responses to Destiny for Medley?

  1. It’s sad watching the promo video. And then it got even sadder when it said Opening 2004.

  2. June 7, 2012 at 6:38 am lynn e responds:

    You can’t tell me that anyone believes this is more than a big tax scam. If it was a viable project more than one offer would have appeared, better to turn on the politiciians who enabled these monsters.

  3. June 7, 2012 at 10:07 am Peking Humonculous responds:

    Just like the fast ferry, the citizens of Rochester seem to realize better than the politicians/powers that be that this is a bad idea. I bet if there was a vote the majority would overwhelmingly oppose this. Let’s stop giving our hard-earned tax money to the Congels and the Wilmots and start investing in what the citizens of this city need, not the rich developers.

  4. June 8, 2012 at 6:54 am Marty Nott responds:

    Rachel, thank you for picking up on the Congel connection. I lived in Syracuse for 25 years (until 2000) and watched the Destiny USA debacle from its very beginning. It has been both painful and shameful, and after just five years or so, it was obvious that the project was a delusion. The local and state governments cooperated at first, loathe to say no to any project that might breathe some life into the local economy. But it became obvious that the Congel organization had no intent to complete the project except out of someone else’s wallet – primarily the taxpayers. When they stepped into the Medley picture, they had no remaining credibility with me.

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