After years of controversy, Carousel Center finally becomes Destiny USA

Destiny USA

The Carousel Center shopping mall in Syracuse falls short of its earlier plans to become the nation's largest retail and entertainment complex, but it does have a new name â?? Destiny USA.

On Wednesday the owners of 2.4-million-square-foot property officially renamed the mall. The last symbols of the classic Carousel Center logo have been replaced by Destiny USA signs.

Destiny USA is the name Syracuse-based developer Robert Congel gave to his planned expansion of Carousel Center, which opened in 1990. The plans called for turning the mall into a tourist destination to rival Minnesota's Mall of America and included a hotel.

Although the expansion plans were later downsized, Destiny USA is now the nation's sixth largest mall. When the expansion is complete, Destiny USA will have more than 250 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, which will employ 5,000 people.

In June, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced that the

Destiny USA project would be just a mall

. The City of Syracuse was about to impose a penalty on Destiny USA for once again missing the deadline to begin a new expansion to the Carousel Center, which could be either a hotel or further improvements to the mall. The original deadline was one year ago.

The city supposedly had the option of putting the current expansion on the tax rolls, doing away with a tax exemption, or assessing a fine as they have twice in the past. Miner said at the time that Pyramid Companies informed the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) that the current expansion to the mall is "the final phase." So the tax exemption stays in place, and nothing more is planned.

"The message we delivered to the ida a month and a half ago is


we're not going to ask the IDA to sell bonds for us anymore. We didn't say we are done building. And I don't have any immediate plans, but let's see where the economy goes. We have a lot of land, I see a lot of demand here and stay tuned. Let's see what happens," says Pyramid partner Bruce Keenan.

Miner said SIDA will declare that Destiny USA is in violation of their agreement, which ends the "public participation" portion of this project. That means if Destiny wants to build a hotel or further expand the mall, it will have to do so with private financing. At Thursday's ceremony, Congel gave a not subtle hint about what it would take to continue to expansion - even though it would likely generate even more controversy.

"Hopefully we can continue to increase what we do in this community. It's always up to government and it's their choice," says Congel.

Banana Republic, Payless Shoes and Auntie Anne's pretzels are all original tenants in Carousel Center from 1990 who are still here.

View our Storify for more photos. Will you call the mall Destiny USA or Carousel Center?

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)