ShoppingTown mall's tax battle could cost DeWitt taxpayers millions

ShoppingTown Mall


though ShoppingTown Mall has new owners, a tax battle with the creditors of the former owner threatens to cost DeWitt taxpayers millions of dollars.

On Tuesday, lawyers for the Town of DeWitt, the Jamesville-DeWitt School District and LNR Properties appeared in State Supreme Court on a procedural motion prior to trial. The lawyers informed Judge Donald Greenwood that they are all in negotiations in hopes of settling the tax assessment challenge that was brought by ShoppingTown's former owner Macerich in 2008.

David Rowley, who represents LNR Properties on behalf of Macerich's creditors says ShoppingTown's property tax assessment of $53 million was far too high. As a result, Rowley says the creditors are owed a refund for excessive taxes paid on the mall.

As potential proof that ShoppingTown was over-assessed, Rowley points to the fact that the mall was sold at auction last year to Moonbeam Capital for $13.65 million.

Lawyer Tom Cerio, who represents the Town of DeWitt admits that the auction price could hurt the town's case, but he says settlement talks are on-going.

All sides are evasive about just how much tax money is at stake. Such a figure would be the result of a complicated calculation involving past assessments dating back six years. They confirm it could add up to millions of dollars, plus hundreds of thousands in interest if DeWitt and the J-D school district are forced to pay refunds.

The new owners, Moonbeam Capital, are also attempting to have ShoppingTown's assessment lowered to better reflect their purchase price of $13.65 million.