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Onondaga County Lawmakers Approve Purchase of ShoppingTown Mall With Hopes of Future Redevelopment

WAER file photo

Onondaga County lawmakers Tuesday agreed to spend $3.5 million to buy ShoppingTown mall from its tax delinquent owner.   The deal with Moonbeam Capital was announced last month by the county executive, and essentially forgives $11 million in back taxes.

Legislature Chair Dave Knapp says it was important for the county to take temporary ownership of the property.

"Any solution that didn't include us having control of the property I would have seen as a failure.  This gets us there.  Nothing is ever perfect, but it definitely gets us where we need to be to move forward."

Moving forward means eventually selling the property to a different developer.  The Town of DeWitt tried for years to work with Moonbeam on redevelopment plans, but none ever came to fruition as the mall slowly lost tenants.  Most plans included mixed-use housing, office, and retail.  Knapp says the county has an interest in making sure it’s done right.

"The highest bidder may not be the winning bidder.  We're looking for the highest bid that also has the most appropriate plan for the property."

Credit WAER screenshot
This screenshot shows the local law approved by Onondaga County lawmakers that allows the eventual sale of the property. 


Legislator Mary Kuhn represents the district in DeWitt, and wants to make sure the town has a seat at the table.

"I'm in complete support of this, but I'm concerned there isn't anything in writing that assures the town of DeWitt to be a partner in deciding what kind of development will go in here."

Legislators Knapp and Brian May reassured Kuhn that the town will be part of redevelopment discussions.

"The town will be integral ultimately in approving anything that happens with that property through its planning and zoning board processes," said May.

"The zoning and planning process obviously puts DeWitt right in the center of the conversation," said Knapp.

The town and Jamesville-Dewitt school district still have to approve their $1.2 million share of the purchase before the deal goes before a Pennsylvania bankruptcy court.   A hearing is scheduled for December 14th.   If everything is approved, the county could issue a request for proposals early next year.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at