Destiny delivers a new hotel plan: Matt's Memo

Destiny USA Executive David Aitken talks with Matt Mulcahy during construction of the expansion.

Word leaked out today that Destiny USA wants to put up a hotel across the street from the newly expanded mall. The developer sent a letter to Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney with a page and a half description of the intention to build this 252 room hotel in a parking lot just across Hiawatha Boulevard from Destiny.

The letter says Destiny is talking to people in the financial world as it tries to secure private financing for the project. That sentence comes just after the one that says it will an applicationg with the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency "to induce the project and grant financial assistance - similar to other hospitality projects in the region."

If they can get past the deal and the ground breaking on this edition of a Destiny hotel it is sure to be an economic success. The mall is too big for an out of town guest to conquer in three or four hours. There is bowling and race cars. There is fondue and cheesecake. There is Imax and Wonderworks. A rest for the weary in the middle of the shopping, dining and socializing makes total sense.

That's especially true when we consider the Canadian visitors who have been frequent mall guests and could spend even more if they had a convenient, comfortable over night stay.

The challenges of this idea. First, Destiny is still trying to overcome the skeptics in our community who saw the dream, fantasy images of Emerald Cities and Tuscan Village hotels during the overly grand design phase of the potential expansion. The faux ground breaking with Governor Pataki and nearly every other elected official back in 2002.

Then there's the Syracuse mayor who going back to her days as councilor was never a fan of the elaborate financial package that took so much of the financial burden off the developer and ultimately led to a overly extended property tax break on the existing mall that dates back to the early 1990's.

For this hotel phase the less the developer asks for in terms of benefits the more likely the package will win approval and make sense for the community.

Finally, there is the concern that a new hotel at the mall will take guests away from other hotels at 7th North Street, Carrier Circle or downtown. The hope would be the wider appeal of Destiny and accompanying accommodations will lead to a rising tide carries all boats process.

If the plan takes shape as expected by Christmas 2015 we will see whether it all came together.


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