Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Just one day after Destiny USA announced that the first phase of the mall expansion has become the final phase, the city of Syracuse is looking at what could have been.
A clause in the original agreement allowed the Pyramid Companies to stop completion of any more phases of the project, but face no penalties and pay no property taxes to the city.
Starting in 2006 and for the 30 years that follow, the city could have been making about $585 million in taxes off the mall. But because of the agreement, it won't.
The city would have made about $19.5 million this year alone.
It is the biggest single taxable property out there - nothing else compares in the city - but other communities are getting Pyramid property tax payments.
Take the Crossgates Mall in Albany: Pyramid pays just over $7 million in property taxes. There are no PILOT agreements there.
The Poughkeepsie Galleria costs Pyramid just under $4 million a year in property taxes.
David Clifford, Syracuse Commissioner of Assessment, said "Obviously if we had millions of dollars to help us out, every dollar helps at this point and time. The city is in a tough financial condition right now."
The argument has always been that the sales tax generated by all the shops, restaurants, stores and attractions at Destiny would more than offset any loss of property taxes.
It's anybody's guess how much sales tax money this one phase - far short of the tourist destination originally promised - will generate.
David Clifford said, "Sometimes it's hard to explain to taxpayers that a large commercial structure is not paying property taxes and they do."
The city does stand to see about $3.8 million a year for the next 12 years, plus an upfront $11 million payment in fees for help with financing the project.