Updated: 12/17/2013 5:41 PM
Created: 12/17/2013 4:50 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
COMIDA approves tax breaks to the owners of Marketplace Mall, but with some conditions. Wilmorite, the owner of the mall, asked the county for breaks so that it can move forward with a $30 million renovation of the Henrietta property.
The Rush-Henrietta School District opposed the agreement, fearing it will lose significant tax revenue. On Tuesday, the COMIDA board voted to give the mall owners a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, but shortened the length of the deal.
News10NBC spoke with the Director of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency(COMIDA) and she says they listened to the public's input on the project. Because of that, the board reduced the length of the agreement from a proposed 25 year tax deal to 20 years. Prior to the vote, a couple of opponents made one last appeal to the board.
Bob Warth said, "Do you really think that this project would not go through without the successful appeal of the application? I think it's going to be done whether we give them the tax breaks or not."
Wilmorite says they have seen a decline in sales at Marketplace Mall. They are planning a $30 million upgrade on the 125 acre site, in hopes of making it a tourist destination. That means tearing down the old DSW building in the back of the mall and redeveloping the Bon-Ton anchor store for a new retailer to be named next week.
Currently, Wilmorite pays $2.8 million in property taxes. Under the pilot agreement, that number will be $2.9 million and will increase by one percent each year for 20 years.
The superintendent of Rush-Henrietta believes a deal could cost the district millions of dollars if the economy improves, but Dennis Wilmot of Wilmorite says the one percent increases will be an improvement over recent tax trends.
Dennis Wilmot said, "It's a value added proposition for us,clearly, but also for the taxing jurisdictions because they know they're going to get annual escalators, unlike a potential deflationary condition where the taxes could go down either by lower assessments and/or erosion of the retail tax base."
Wilmorite's tax assessment has gone down in recent years due to vacancies. The agreement does come with some conditions. If Wilmorite were to sell the mall or any of the new anchor tenants leave, the deal could be nullified. Also, any new buildings outside of the project that might go up will be on the full tax rolls.
As for the new stores, Wilmot says they are recognizable names. One will be a first in New York State while two others will be new to the Rochester region.