“It’s the convergence of two pipe dreams. Two things that will never happen have decided to never happen together.” – Bob Lonsberry, WHAM 1180
One could easily laugh off the idea of a $750 million development along Route 104 in Irondequoit. The price tag is one of the very few details we know about the plan to revitalize Medley Centre. Developer Scott Congel, son of mall magnate Robert Congel, hasn’t given interviews or taken questions. He’s the man behind the curtain.
But Congel is known to local politicians, who have entertained his big ideas for the mall. According to state records, he’s paying Al D’Amato’s lobbying firm $15,000 a month to work on Medley Centre. There’s no question Congel is following the Destiny USA playbook of PILOTs and taxpayer support. While Destiny is not the behemoth promised, it is still something.
According to COMIDA documents, Congel has incurred $90 million in expenses so far on Medley. The East Irondequoit school district believes the PILOT says the money must be spent. COMIDA says it counts if he has the money secured. Either way, he has a ton of money in the deal and is current on the PILOT payments. (By the way, who else is clamoring to do anything with the mall?)
It’s easy to laugh off Congel until it isn’t.
Mayor Tom Richards dismissed the Rochester Broadway Theater League’s plan to ditch Midtown Plaza site and in favor of a theater at Medley in a report I did for 13WHAM News:
Is it the most important thing for my administration to be working on? No.
I’m sure they could build something cheaper. But cheaper is what it is. If they want to build a metal box out in Medley and that’s okay with them, then that’s okay.
I’m just not sure what kind of credibility this Medley proposal has and I’m not going to chase it. I’m just not.
The mayor isn’t going to fight for something he doesn’t think is real. He told RBTL to make it real by raising $15 million of private money. But I don’t think RBTL could have pulled anything off without a champion in the mayor. RBTL needs someone with power fighting for public and private cash.
I have a feeling if Medley moves forward, community leaders will get antsy. Only then will the fight for a downtown theater begin. If the city loses, future generations will lament the shortsightedness of moving Broadway to East Ridge Road.
Links of the Day:
– A tax-exempt Syracuse hospital will pay for city services. Rochester should go after institutions for deals like this one.
– Time Warner’s CEO says cord-cutting is limited to low-income Americans. (I must be one of them.)
– Football coaches at major colleges saw a 70 percent hike in pay over the last six years. (Did you even get a cost-of-living increase all of those years?)
– More New Yorkers believe in Santa Claus this year compared to last year.