(Update, Feb. 14) – The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court in Rochester has unanimously denied the city’s appeal of Judge James Murphy’s decision to dismiss the city’s lawsuit against inner-harbor developer COR Development Co.
Mayor Stephanie Miner filed the lawsuit in December of 2015, after alleging the company had deliberately sought a tax relief deal, or “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) deal, from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, to allow the company to avoid an agreement with the city, which would have bound the company to provide project-related jobs to city residents, and minorities, for the $342 million project.
Last year, Judge Murphy decided the city was unable to prove COR had reneged on its deal when it purchased the land from the city in 2012, and he denied the city’s request that COR return the property.
On Feb. 10, the appellate court upheld Murphy’s decision.
According to reports, a city spokesperson said the city is currently considering its options, following the court’s decision.
(From February 23, 2016) – New York State Supreme Court Judge James Murphy has dismissed the city’s lawsuit against inner harbor developer COR Development Co.
Mayor Stephanie Miner filed the lawsuit in December, after alleging the company had deliberately sought a tax relief deal, or “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) deal, from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency, to allow the company to avoid an agreement with the city, which would have bound the company to provide project-related jobs to city residents, and minorities, for the $342 million project.
According to Miner, initially, the company told city officials it didn’t plan to seek a tax deal with OCIDA, before it purchased the harbor land from the city.
However, COR has denied the allegations.
As a result, the company previously filed its own motion to have the city’s lawsuit dismissed.
But, ultimately, according to Judge Murphy, the city was unable to prove COR had reneged on its deal, when it purchased the land in 2012.
“During the entire review process, there was absolutely no statement, reference, or requirement that COR was in any way precluded from seeking a PILOT agreement in connection with the project,” Murphy stated in his decision.
Following the ruling, COR said the company was “grateful to the court” for dismissing the city’s “frivolous” lawsuit.
However, the company said it was still concerned the city would appeal the ruling, and further slow its completion of the project.
“What remains concerning is the city’s attempt to continue its suit through an appeal, which could cause significant, and long-lasting delays,” COR stated.”The city’s maneuver will negatively impact the timely employment of 250 local construction workers for the mixed-use apartments – which is permitted, financed, and ready to go – and potentially 60 local permanent jobs with the Aloft Hotel, in a hiring and training partnership with SUNY EOC.”
Speculation has also arisen recently regarding whether the city’s lawsuit was more about an ongoing rift between city and county governments, rather than protecting local workers.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, a vocal supporter of COR’s deal with OCIDA, said it would be “irresponsible” for the city to delay the nearly-completed project, by appealing Murphy’s decision.
“There was no basis for the lawsuit, and there’s certainly no basis for an appeal,” Mahoney reportedly stated.
The city has released the following statement regarding the matter:
“This afternoon, the city administration was notified of Judge Murphy’s decision in our lawsuit against COR Development LLC. We are reviewing the decision with counsel, and examining our options going forward. The administration continues its commitment to ensuring public benefits from any project of this scale receiving public dollars.”
The Syracuse Urban Jobs Task Force has also called on COR to hire local residents for the inner harbor project, which the group highlighted during a protest at the project’s site last Thursday.
COR is also currently almost finished with the 134-room Aloft Hotel, a part of the project, which also includes residential, retail, and office space.