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ShoppingTown Mall owner, behind on its taxes, threatens second lawsuit against Onondaga County

By Eric Reinhardt

Date:

DeWITT, N.Y. — The owner of ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt, which is behind on its taxes on the property, is threatening a second lawsuit against Onondaga County.

Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC also names the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA), and the Town of DeWitt in the notice of claim.

Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II on Thursday held a news conference after Moonbeam Capital Investments, LLC, owner of ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt, which is behind on its taxes on the property, filed a notice of claim against the county, its Industrial Development Agency, and the Town of DeWitt, citing an “unlawful conspiracy” to impede its ability to redevelop the property. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II on Thursday provided details during a morning news conference at which he provided reporters a copy of the notice of claim.

In the document, Moonbeam stipulates that it “uncovered an unlawful conspiracy” between Onondaga County, OCIDA, the Town of DeWitt, and certain unnamed parties against its plans to redevelop the property.

Moonbeam also claims the county “abandoned” the foreclosure process and instead plans to take property a public use “without just compensation.”

Moonbeam is already suing Onondaga County over its decision to transfer the property to OCIDA, saying it’s “illegal under the Onondaga County Tax Act,” per the notice of claim.

In its notice of claim, McMahon contends that Moonbeam is making “some outrageous claims.”

In it, Moonbeam claims that not long after it bought the mall property in September 2013, the Town of DeWitt began “refusing to issue permits related to construction, signage, and redevelopment” of the property.

McMahon called Moonbeam “Onondaga County’s largest absentee landlord,” saying it owes the county $7.6 million, a figure that will rise to more than $9 million in 2019.

“This situation is at a crisis point where a company or a landlord can go four years without paying any taxes, collecting rents, not reinvesting back into the property as tenant after tenant leaves and still be part of this community,” said McMahon.

Not long after he assumed the role of county executive, McMahon said he and the county’s attorney spoke with Moonbeam’s attorney, hoping to arrive at a “comprehensive approach” to the issue.

It would involve a down payment for the taxes it owes, a payment plan for the taxes, and a reinvestment strategy for the property.

“And if we could come to agreement on those three items, we would consider a PILOT agreement for the property, so it would be sustainable going forward and be an asset to the community,” said McMahon. PILOT is short for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes.

At the time, McMahon said Moonbeam “gave every inclination” that it would have conversations and set up a meeting. But then Onondaga County received a notice of claim, McMahon said.

“They have not acted in good faith, once again,” McMahon contended. “We’re going to always still entertain conversations but will let the courts deal with the issue later in February.”

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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