Updated 06/06/2012 05:53 PM
Destiny USA project on pause
The slow economy may finally have caught up with the Destiny USA project. The developer says a new expansion of Carousel Center will open this summer. But YNN's Bill Carey says future phases of Destiny are now on hold.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Last summer, with construction work well underway, there were few doubts by developers at Destiny that they could meet a goal for finishing the expansion of Carousel Center. But they still had the challenge, under a deal with the city, to begin work on the next phase of the project, either a hotel or additional retail space. Robert Congel was already hinting those phases might be on hold.
“As long as we have an economy that paralyzes us. We don't know what we're going to have. I mean, our country may be broke. So it's not an easy time to make commitments,” Congel said in August of 2010.
With another deadline approaching and the likelihood the city would demand more money for an extension, Destiny finally invoked a portion of the deal that would end the deadline dispute. In a letter to the city, they said the expansion would be the final phase of Destiny.
“Taking a look at the agreements and where we were at the present time, determined it was best to press the pause button, put our emphasis on insuring that this is successful and it's coming along great. And then we'll see where we are in the future,” David Aitken said.
Under their deal, by completing the expansion, Destiny stays off the property tax rolls. But the move does put an end to the requirement that the city offer bonding to help cover future project costs.
“If they decide that they want to move forward and build a hotel or build more retail space, then they would have to do it as every other developer would. They would have to go and get private financing,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said.
Both the city and the developer agree that the "final phase" declaration does not mean that there cannot be further expansions of the Destiny project. But the two sides have very different views of what the future will hold. And very different views of what the city has gained.
Miner said, “I believed as a city councilor that Syracuse's destiny was not a shopping mall. I continue to believe that now.”
“Sometimes people, who are very close to the deal say, this is it. Well, this is it means in Syracuse, New York we have the sixth largest shopping destination. A facility that will have 265 businesses and 5,000 employees,” Aitken said.
A project that may just be taking a break or may be at an end.
Some of the new tenants of the expanded mall have begun opening their doors. Most will do so this summer. The expansion is due to formally mark its opening at a ceremony in August.