Tuesday, April 15, 2014

COMIDA board says Medley owner has to pay up

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

The Monroe County Industrial Development Agency has issued a firm ultimatum to Medley Centre's developer.

During its meeting this afternoon, the COMIDA board approved a resolution to terminate a tax incentive agreement with Medley owner Bersin Properties if the company does not make overdue payments by May 1. Under the resolution, the agency would terminate the agreement on May 2.

County Executive Maggie Brooks appeared at today's meeting to request the resolution. The board also approved a second resolution — which Brooks also requested — stating that the agency would work alongside the county on any related legal action.

Brooks lauded COMIDA members and staff for working to attract and retain businesses in Monroe County. She said the incentives the board grants have resulted in substantial jobs and property tax revenue, and yield far more benefits than costs to the community.

"The good work of this board has been overshadowed by this saga," Brooks said.

Earlier this year, Bersin Properties failed to make its annual payment under a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with COMIDA, the Town of Irondequoit, and the East Irondequoit School District. And it also failed to make a $3.5 million penalty payment to the governments, which it owes because last year it missed a $165 million investment milestone in the project.

In February, officials from the local governments sent a letter to Bersin officials, saying the company needed to make good on $3.9 million in outstanding payments, or the town and school district would ask COMIDA to terminate the agreement.

"There is no dispute they're in default," Mike Townsend, COMIDA's attorney, said during today's meeting.

Scott Congel of Bersin has asked for an amended PILOT agreement, saying in letters that the current agreement is an obstacle to getting financing for the project.

COMIDA board member Eugene Caccamise, who in the past has been optimistic about the Medley project, said he still thinks the developer can turn the mall around. But Congel needs to pay the local governments first and worry about other details later. 

"Talked to him [Congel] this morning, asked him to pay," said Caccamise, who backed both resolutions. Caccamise is the labor representative on the COMIDA board. 

[UPDATE 3:35 p.m.] Bersin Properties managing principal Scott Congel released the following statement about the COMIDA resolutions:

"We are going to continue communicating with the county and COMIDA to attempt to resolve our differences. It is a billion dollar project with thousands of jobs and it is our goal to move forward."

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