Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lots of money at stake in Medley Centre dispute

Posted By on Wed, Apr 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Medley Centre's developer has a choice: pay now, or pay a lot more later.

Yesterday, the Monroe County Industrial Development Agency's board affirmed that it'll terminate a tax incentive agreement with Medley owner Bersin Properties if the company doesn't make $3.9 million in overdue payments by May 1. Losing the tax incentives, which are laid out in a payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, would be costly to the company.

Back in March, Irondequoit Supervisor Adam Bello told me the mall property has an assessed value of $40 million. So if the PILOT is terminated, Bersin Properties would have to pay full taxes on that assessed amount. Bello said the taxes based on that assessment would total $1.7 million between the Town of Irondequoit, Monroe County, and the East Irondequoit School District. To put that figure in perspective, the mall owner's 2014 obligation under the PILOT was $392,381.

Whether the mall is actually worth $40 million could be another matter, and Bello said he expects Bersin officials would challenge the town's assessment.

“Every property in town should be assessed for what its true value is, so if the assessment goes down, it goes down," Bello said. "My issue, though, is that everybody has to have their fair assessment but everybody has to pay their taxes. I would just expect that whatever the assessment comes to be and whatever the tax liability is, that it be paid.”

Of course, the whole Medley scenario is a big what-if right now. The mall owner could pay the $3.9 million it owes to the town, county, and school district, which would result in a whole different discussion. But if COMIDA terminates the PILOT, then some sort of expensive legal fight is likely. Local officials say they expect that the developer would retain a high-powered legal team.

“Here’s the goal,” County Executive Maggie Brooks told reporters at yesterday's COMIDA meeting. “May 1 is coming, if he makes his payments then we all move forward. If he doesn’t, we may have to go to court to obtain what he owes."

Bersin Properties could also sue to try to stop the PILOT's termination. Top Bersin official Scott Congel has said the company has a billion dollar plan to redevelop the dead mall, but he's also said that the company needs to renegotiate the PILOT to move the project forward. Local government officials say they have been unwilling to change the agreement's terms because the company has invested little in the property over the past few years. 

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