According to Syracuse.com, Destiny USA plans to build a seven-story, $48 million hotel directly across the street from the company’s shopping mall on Hiawatha Blvd. The proposed 209-room hotel is set to begin construction in June, with an estimated opening date of summer 2017.
On Tuesday, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) unanimously approved a 12-year property tax exemption for the project, saving Destiny USA approximately $6.84 million in taxes. Destiny USA will still have to pay $111,000 per year in land taxes, but the building itself will not be taxed for 12 years.
In addition to the property tax break, Destiny USA will receive a sales tax exemption on construction materials, though they did not request exemption from the state mortgage recording tax. There is also a Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit that allows up to 30% of certain green building materials to be deducted, but Destiny USA has not sought this exemption as of yet.
David Aitken, Destiny USA executive, believes that the hotel will help to attract more tourists to the company’s popular mall. Canadian shoppers are frequent visitors to the area, but Aitken thinks that the hotel will make a big difference in drawing people from other areas.
Mayor Miner was quite displeased with the property tax exemption, claiming that it is “another commitment of public dollars to a project that is simply folly.” Since the OCIDA has full authority when it comes to granting tax exemptions, Miner was essentially helpless in the matter.
“This type of trickle-down development, which OCIDA continues to support time and time again, does not benefit our citizens and instead takes money away from the poorest people in our community to further enrich wealthy developers,” Miner said. “As a community, we need to support meaningful economic development which provides good-paying jobs that can help break families out of the cycle of poverty.”
Miner was recently engaged in a public legal battle with COR Development over the Syracuse Inner Harbor Project. As Syracuse.com also reported, Miner claimed that COR went behind her back to seek tax breaks for the project after promising they would not do so before the deal was agreed upon.
A judge’s order to dismiss the mayor’s lawsuit passed without appeal, so it seems as if Miner has given up on that specific case. However, she may be inclined to ignite a legal battle with Destiny USA if they do not adhere to the city’s rules and regulations.
The company has promised that at least 50% of its 74 employees will be residents of Syracuse, and will be penalized $200,000 if it fails to comply. Additionally, Destiny USA will receive a $75,000 penalty if at least 15% of its building contractors are not owned by minorities and/or women.
It remains to be seen how the project will pan out, but it seems as if Mayor Miner is prepared to engage in yet another public battle with a local company if Destiny USA does not meet these criteria.