Updated: 05/28/2014 6:31 PM
Created: 05/28/2014 6:15 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen
He's facing lawsuits and fines over a stalled development project. For the first time, News10NBC is hearing from the owner of the former Irondequoit Mall.
Scott Congel is now in possible talks of becoming the new owner of the NFL team, The Buffalo Bills.
For years, he's been silent about the problems at the Medley Centre. The former mall, which was once a popular shopping center, has been sitting and deteriorating for years. Recently, there have been claims about the misuse of taxpayer dollars. Congel was forced to pay more than $100,000 in fines and fees for damage caused inside after a frozen pipe burst.
News10NBC spoke with Congel about the troubled site and his plans for a new project in a new community. Scott Congel has big plans for a former mall site, but not Medley Centre. Instead, he was in Erie County Wednesday to pitch development plans for the property he owns in West Seneca.
News10NBC’s Brett Davidsen asked, “How do you go about financing a project here, given you've had struggles financing the project at Medley Centre?”
Scott Congel said, “We had the same banking issue with our Destiny USA project. We prevailed in court there, yet, we were also able to do separate financings. Each one of these projects is done on their merit."
It is the first time Congel has agreed to speak on camera about his difficulties in getting the Medley Centre project off the ground.News10NBC had a lot of questions, starting with whether taxpayers should believe he'll ever deliver on his promises.
Davidsen asked, “Can you sense the frustration as far as not being able to see any visible signs of progress there?”
Congel said, "Absolutely. Listen, we're just as frustrated. Our job is to be able to move projects, get them done. We happen to like this project an awful lot."
Congel repeatedly blamed his lender for pulling the funding for the Irondequoit project. He's now suing the bank. His company got big tax breaks from Monroe County and the town, the form of a PILOT agreement, but after he failed to make the payments on time, the county moved to strip him of the breaks.
Davidsen asked, “Does a lack of a PILOT agreement essentially kill that project?”
Congel said, “It could, absolutely.”
Davidsen asked, “Have you communicated that to the county since they ended that PILOT agreement?”
Congel said, "I can just say there's been communications that have gone back and forth."
Congel also addressed the code violations that were discovered in the mall over the winter. The town cited the company after a sprinkler pipe burst causing extensive damage inside, that led to an inspection and a $100,000 dollar fine.
Congel said, "Do we think we were in compliance? We think there was a strong argument that we were. Obviously, the mall has been moth balled for the past couple of years. There have been no issues. Again, we think some politics getting involved and we got some competition getting involved and they brought it up. We made a decision. We easily could have fought it and we made a business decision."
Congel says that business decision was to plead no contest, write a check and put the code issue to rest. The deadline to pay that fine was Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. The town of Irondequoit confirms Congel did indeed make the $100,000 payment.