With the newly-named Destiny USA mall now taking shape, is the project to create an even larger center dead? YNN's Bill Carey says there is still a chance that the nation's new sixth largest mall could climb in the rankings.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The City of Syracuse has been on the offensive for weeks. Figuring out ways to punish the developers of Destiny USA for their decision not to proceed with a second and third phase of the project.
Some city leaders claim the city has been "taken" for millions of dollars in property tax benefits. But is all this it?
While some have indicated that the Destiny USA project is at an end, the people in charge of developing this mall say there is still an opportunity, and a chance, for future expansion.
“The message that we sent out, about a month ago, a month and a half ago, was we weren't going to ask SIDA to sell bonds for us anymore. We didn't say we were done building,” Destiny USA partner Bruce Kenan said.
What is clear is that it is unlikely that the mall would find a receptive attitude from the current mayor of Syracuse, Stephanie Miner, a long time critic of the project.
Despite the gains in jobs and sales tax revenue from the expansion, city leaders were noticeably absent from a "re-branding" ceremony at the mall. A project supporter, Onondaga County's Executive, says it's clear that future expansion will depend on changes in local government.
“There's going to have to be a commitment from the community that we'll be in it for the long haul. It's difficult, I think, when local politicians come and go, some in favor, some not, for a company to make long term plans. And I think we're really going to have to sit down and have a conversation as a community about how we want to be able to plan long term,” Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said.
The man who first envisioned the project says there is no reason to stop dreaming.
Destiny USA partner Robert Congel said, “With the right environment, the Pyramid companies should be building two, three, four times what we've built here, in all the different dimensions.”
Until the city-developer relationship changes, further expansion will remain only on the drawing board.