It appears a new dispute between the City of Syracuse and the builders of Destiny USA is headed to the courts. YNN's Bill Carey says the latest battle centers on a new deadline the city says Destiny has ignored.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- As they began to wrap up work on a new expansion, the developers of Destiny USA invoked a provision of their long term tax deal with the city to say the new portion of the mall would be the "final phase" under the agreement and that, for now at least, no further phases would be built.
The city and its Industrial Development Agency voiced outrage and began to look closely at all of the PILOT agreements in place to see where Destiny might be held to account.
The focus became the part of the deal covering overflow parking lots along Hiawatha Boulevard. With the tax deal in place, SIDA technically held title to the land. But it now says Destiny must take ownership of the property, opening up the company to a normal property tax bill for the land.
The numbers are substantial. Currently, Destiny pays about $400,000 per year to the city under a PILOT agreement for the property. Under the new arrangement, a property tax bill would be close to $700,000.
“If this is where we are. That's the final phase. The mall exists. It will generate sales tax revenue. It will generate profit for the folks over there, the stores over there. It's unfortunate that it appears we're headed for court again,” SIDA Chairman William Ryan said.
Destiny disputes the city position and ignored a new deadline for signing the necessary paperwork. The company says, in a statement, it has, "secured legal advice from three separate law firms on this matter. In written and verbal communications, SIDA has been apprised that there is no legal basis to support their current position."
The two sides will now need a judge to decide which position is correct.
Ryan said, “We've always felt we had a strong case. The courthouse has not been particularly kind to us, but that being said, and I guess I'll leave it at that, we feel good about our position that, according to the parking installment agreement, that that is what happens when a final phase is declared.”
Ryan calls the Destiny position disappointing.
The Destiny expansion has slowly been rolling out announcements of new tenants. Most of the new stores, restaurants and entertainment venues are due to be in operation by year's end.