Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is speaking out against a tax break for the planned Destiny USA hotel, saying it would cost taxpayers $20 million.
Last week, Destiny executives sent a letter to the Mayor and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, detailing their plans to build a 252 room hotel. As part of the plan, Destiny would seek new tax breaks from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA).
The Mayor says Destiny officials are seeking an 18-year PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) deal, which would exempt the developer from county and city taxes on the new hotel during that time.
Miner says any hotel construction to support the mall should be privately financed. She says at a time when the city struggles to find funding to fill police vacancies, the developers should not get a tax break. Miner says she feels strongly it would be a mistake for the county to grant another tax break for a mall hotel.
Destiny previously received a controversial 30-year tax break, which the Mayor opposed. As part of that deal, developers had promised to build a 39-story hotel with 1,342 rooms. That portion of the development never happened. Destiny executives later announced there would be no further development. "Destiny already has received an unprecedented tax break worth hundreds of millions of tax dollars for promising, among other things, a bigger hotel," Mayor Miner said. "They should not receive additional benefits for a project they failed to deliver. Most importantly, the community will not receive any material benefits for incenting a hotel next to a successful mall."
The $75 million hotel would be built across Hiawatha Boulevard on what is now a parking lot. It would connect to Destiny USA by a pedestrian bridge. Destiny executives say they are working with the financial markets to secure independent financing for the project. The company estimates the hotel would create 300 construction jobs and 80 permanent jobs.
County Executive Joanie Mahoney previously said a hotel is the next logical step for Destiny. She says the right hotel project could complement the mall and bring in more tax revenue for the county. She wants to make sure the hotel will maximize benefits for the area.
Destiny USA spokesperson David Aitken released said this about the Mayor's stance on the hotel:
"The Mayor??s statement today is consistent with her longstanding position on Destiny USA.
The construction of the hotel will be undertaken entirely with private financing. Our request of OCIDA is no different than PILOT requests considered and granted by SIDA for other recent hotel projects in our community ?? without which this project would not be feasible.
With the growth of Canadian tourists and other guests from beyond the Syracuse area, largely driven by the success of Destiny USA, this project will provide additional sales tax revenue, room occupancy taxes and create new construction and permanent jobs for area residents."
If all goes as planned, Destiny says construction could begin this spring with hopes of opening it in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season.