Updated: 02/06/2014 6:16 PM
Created: 02/06/2014 5:32 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
It’s been called an eyesore for years. A lot of people have complained about the progress at the former Irondequoit Mall. Now lawmakers say they’re fed up and are calling for an investigation.
On Thursday, the area’s top ranking Assembly member called for an investigation into whether the mall should continue to get state tax breaks. It comes just days after local officials gave the mall owner an ultimatum to make his overdue tax payments.
Patience seems to be running out. On Tuesday, Scott Congel, the owner of the Medley Centre, missed his deadline to make his tax agreement payments totaling almost four million dollars. On Thursday, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said it may just be time to put an end to his state tax breaks.
Assemblyman Majority Joe Morelle said, “I think taxpayers have contributed enough. He has not contributed nearly enough.”
The saga over this site has now been going on for more than five years since it was purchased by Congel. He promised to re-develop the dying mall into a destination location complete with hotels, restaurants, retail and offices.
The mall was designated a state empire zone, allowing Congel to receive millions in tax credits to cover what he owes the county, town and East Irondequoit School District. But in a letter to the president of the Empire State Development Thursday, Morelle questions if Congel is meeting his obligations to qualify as an empire zone. Morelle points out that there appears to be no electricity or heat to most of the mall. The building flooded last month after water pipes burst. Then there’s Congel. He’s refused all interview requests, even going as far as to try to evade our cameras after a meeting with government officials in September.
Morelle says he’s been equally evasive about his financial plans to get the project off the ground.
Morelle said, "I think we've been beyond patient. I think we have, as government, bent over backwards in the hopes that his continued promises would actually turn into dollars. I think for me the last straw was this week."
Congel has said he needs to renegotiate a more favorable local tax agreement in order to secure the funding for the billion dollar project. On Thursday afternoon, News10NBC received an email from Congel blasting Morelle. It says,"Empire zone status is constantly audited as Assemblyman Morelle should know. We find it unfortunate that he has chosen to try to politicize this situation while we are working with government officials to advance this project."
Meantime, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks urged continued patience and cooperation.