Medley Centre is not another fast ferry, because we haven’t yet sunk millions of dollars of taxpayer money into the project.
But it could go down the same road if developer Scott Congel gets $250 million in state financing for what is now a $750 million behemoth. For that amount of money, you could build the Buffalo Bills a new stadium.
The state bonds would be paid back using sales tax revenue generated from the development. If the project is not successful, taxpayers would be on the hook.
Assemblyman Joe Morelle and Senator Jim Alesi are not comfortable with his audacious proposal, in the works for some time. But they certainly left the door open to future state support. Indeed, it’s hard to see the project going anywhere without state help.
It’s not good to have an empty mall sitting along the highway. It will clearly cost a lot of money to turn it into a “lifestyle center.” There are no alternate proposals. Our area has a glut of business and industrial space. Knocking it down lowers the property’s assessment, which hurts the town and school district.
If Congel wants state help for this project, he will have to answer questions. He will have to go before reporters and the public and explain what costs $750 million. He will have to show us studies on the viability of the development. He will have to demonstrate taxpayers will get a return on their investment. He will have to show he’s in it for the long haul.
He’ll have to prove he’s not crazy.