Mall/casino developer wants bailout from taxpayers again

July 26, 2018 08:10 PM

One of the area's biggest developers has its hand out again, looking for a bailout from taxpayers.  

Five years ago, Wilmorite agreed to a 25-year tax deal on The Mall at Greece Ridge but now it wants to change the terms. 

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Wilmorite owns and runs The Mall at Greece Ridge, Marketplace Mall in Henrietta, Eastview Mall in Victor and Del Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County.

Over the last five years, its asked for special tax deals on all of those projects.  

We all know that traditional malls are struggling, it's the reason Wilmorite used to renegotiate its tax deal with Greece back in 2013. 

At a Greece School Board meeting this week there was a sense of déjà vu when Dennis Wilmot of Wilmorite presented a plan to change the payment in lieu of taxes agreement again, "we have approached Imagine Monroe about an amendment to the PILOT. Namely what we are asking for is an increment or a portion of the taxes to be distributed back to the property to be exclusively allocated for capital expenditures," he said. 

Over the next 10 years, Wilmorite wants to keep $6.2 million it would have paid in school taxes, shifting the burden back to local taxpayers.

Recently, Wilmorite negotiated itself a new tax deal with Ontario County and the Town of Victor in regards to Eastview Mall. 

A few years before that, the company said a PILOT was crucial to keep Marketplace Mall afloat and as News10NBC has been reporting, just one year after its grand opening, Del Lago Casino fell $100 million short of revenue projections. 

Already, the Wilmots, who own Wilmorite, have been back and forth to Albany trying to lobby Governor Andrew Cuomo for a tax break on that.

"This is a skilled, experienced and savvy developer who knows their way around political arrangements. If they can squeeze a profit out of renting a store, if they can squeeze a profit out of running a casino or squeeze a profit out of the taxpayer, I'm sure to the developer a dollar's profit is a dollar's profit," says George Conboy Chairman, Brighton Securities.  

So far, Governor Cuomo has resisted a bailout on the Casino but it looks like the Town of Greece is willing to help out Wilmorite again. 

"If you look at the malls, we don't want to have another medley center…we have many residents that are gainfully employed at the mall and we're not going to let those jobs just vaporize," Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich tells News10NBC. 

In the end, some worry this deal could amount to using buckets to bail out a sinking ship, "you have to ask yourself how much taxpayer support should there be for a business that taxpayers themselves are not supporting with their shopping dollars," Conboy says.  

News10NBC asked Wilmorite for a sit down interview on Thursday. 

A spokeswoman for the company declined, pointing only to the statement issued on Wednesday evening in response to the Greece PILOT deal. 

The statement is as follows: 

"As consumer spending habits continue to evolve, so must the mall.The cost of retaining and bringing high quality tenants to the mall has dramatically increased over the past few years.  

This coupled with the challenges of recent industry wide closures and bankruptcies of retailers, such as Sears, is why we are requesting an amendment to the current PILOT.

This amendment will help to provide some of the necessary funds to continue The Mall at Greece Ridge as a vibrant part of the community and a viable shopping center. The requested funds will be exclusively allocated for the capital expenditures and tenant inducements at the mall.

The PILOT in 2013 allowed us to successfully replace a struggling department store with a street of shops and restaurants that generated significantly more traffic and sales for the mall. This amendment will help us achieve our collective goal to continue the mall to be a desirable place to shop and gather."


Jennifer Lewke

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