Mayor Points Toward County for Sibley Building Delays
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The mayor says the Republican majority in the County Legislature may be behind COMIDA holding up approval of a payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the Sibley Building sale and redevelopment.
Winn Development of Boston plans to buy the building for five million dollars, then invest $50 million more on a five-year redevelopment plan.
Richards says the tax break agreement with the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency is the last part of the Sibley transaction. He says COMIDA informed him the agreement was a go, but now can't seem to get it on the IDA's agenda.
The mayor says he recently learned that the Republican majority in the County Legislature wants the city to persuade some Democratic legislators to approve the relocation of Monroe Community College from the Sibley Building to Kodak in order for the PILOT agreement to move forward.
"We were really surprised to hear this, for a couple of reasons," said Richards, (D). "One, the Sibley transaction is not contingent on MCC staying there. In fact, it makes it easier in a lot of ways for MCC to leave. Obviously, if you're concerned about MCC you want this transaction to go forward because they're going to invest in the building, make it a better place; if MCC goes, it's still a better five years they spend there."
Richards says a public notice must be posted by the end of the week to get the proposal on the agenda for COMIDA's October 16th meeting.
County Executive Maggie Brooks says the agency needs more time to study the plan.
"The city's been working on this pilot since March. City Council took four months before it acted on the PILOT. COMIDA's had it for two weeks. So I think that is is appropriate that they do due diligence because when you're talking about government subsidies and projects we're spending public money," said Brooks, (R). "It's not our money, it's the taxpayer"s money and we have to make sure we're getting it right."
"I don't buy that, I got to tell you. I don't buy it for two reasons. One, we've been told there's another agenda here, and second of all, I don't buy it because there's been plenty of time to study this. There's lots of time to study it. It was ready last month," Richards said.
Brooks doesn't believe there is any political motivation behind the hold-up. She says COMIDA wants to make sure its the right deal for county taxpayers.
"They mayor talks about $1.7 billion worth of new development in downtown Rochester. The IDA is a part of most of that. I think we've been a very good partner. The mayor and I have cut numerous ribbons together on projects that we've worked on. We're all working on this. The county considers itself a partner in the Sibley redevelopment. We just want to get it right," Brooks said.
Richards says its important to get the PILOT agreement approved at COMIDA's next meeting because private financing agreements run out at the end of the month.
Brooks says COMIDA is scheduled to meet with Winn Development on Wednesday.