Medley Centre to lose Empire Zone status

Updated: 06/10/2014 5:24 PM
Created: 06/10/2014 10:47 AM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

More trouble for the Medley Centre. The state has pulled tax breaks, saying the owner failed to live up to an agreement. They were supposed to employ a specific number of people, but the agency in charge says that didn't happen.   

News10NBC has obtained a copy of a letter from Empire State Development to mall owner Scott Congel, of Bersin Properties, informing him of the decision. As part of the agreement, Scott Congel, the managing partner of Bersin Properties, had to employ just two people at the site, but the state says, for a period of time, he didn't.

In the letter from Empire State Development to Congel, it claims the developer made material misrepresentations of facts as to the total number of existing jobs. For that reason, the state has revoked his Empire Zone status and the tax credits that came with it.

Assemblyman Joe Morelle said, “It means they are not going to be extending benefits to people who don't deserve them.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle asked Empire State Development to investigate if Congel was abiding by the agreement.

Morelle said, "One thing is, for certain, that we're going to hold accountable people who make commitments to us and when taxpayers have to make sacrifices, people have to live up to those commitments."

The Medley Centre was given the Empire Zone designation back in 2004, even before Congel took over Bersin Properties. Over the entire decade, the company has received nearly four million dollars in property tax credits. Congel says that's misleading. During News10NBC’s exclusive interview with him two weeks ago, he claimed he hasn't received anything from the state since 2009.

Scott Congel said, "There are a lot of rumors that are out there now. For all these millions and millions of dollars we were supposed to have received, we've been looking for them."

Morelle says he finds that hard to believe.

Morelle said, "Now we're going to take a look at whether or not past benefits he received are deserved and if not, use every tool at our disposal to try to re-claim those dollars."

The state’s decision comes on the heels of the county’s recent move to end a separate tax break agreement with Bersin Properties. Congel is now suing to have those breaks re-instated.

Scott Congel also issued a statement Tuesday saying in part, "We acknowledge that we have received a notice from the State regarding the possible termination of our Empire Zone certification. The notice provides a 30-day period to appeal the pending decision, which we intend to do. We have had employees working at the site from 2007 into 2013 before we were forced to temporarily mothball the project. We believe we are in compliance". Click here to read the full statement.

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