destiny usa

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Independent restaurants in central New York are hoping to fight what they call an uneven playing field when it comes to Destiny USA. Many restaurants say they’ve lost business since the mega-mall expanded a few years ago with the help of a tax deal with the city of Syracuse.

Denis Sick, of Mohegan Manor in Baldwinsville, has seen business fall 30 to 40 percent since December a year ago, and puts the blame squarely on competition from Destiny’s chain restaurants.

Ellen Abbott

The Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) is getting to work on the latest request from the developer of Destiny USA for a tax break to build a 252-room hotel across the street from the mall.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says OCIDA needs to consider Canadian tourism before granting tax breaks to Destiny. Many of the out-of-town visitors to Destiny are Canadian and, with new duty-free Canadian rules, Mahoney says more visitors are coming to town for more than a day.

Destiny USA

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says giving the Destiny USA entertainment and shopping center a tax break to build a hotel would be “a mistake,” but the mayor actually has little say over those incentives.

Destiny USA

The information gathering phase of a proposed 252-room hotel project next to the Destiny USA mall in Syracuse has started.

Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse both received letters last week from Destiny indicating a plan to build a hotel across the street from the mall. The developer is asking for tax breaks from the county consistent with deals other hotels have gotten. The difference, according to mayoral spokesman Tim Carroll, is that Destiny is going through the county.

Destiny USA

The owners of the Destiny USA mega-mall and entertainment center in Syracuse again have plans to build a hotel as part of its complex along Onondaga Lake.

The mall this week sent a letter to Mayor Stephanie Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. A spokesman for the mayor confirmed they received the letter but had no further comment. The mayor has long opposed the mall's large and lengthy property tax break.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Away from the hustle and bustle of Destiny USA and Great Northern Mall, mom and pop shops throughout the region are working hard to promote their own version of Black Friday -- Small Business Saturday.

The city of Oswego is no different. Bill Riley, owner of the River's End Bookstore, has embraced the event since its creation several years ago. His store is hosting two local authors on Saturday, including former political cartoonist Frank Cammuso and award winning author Laurie Halse Anderson.
 

US Embassy Canada / Flickr

Shoppers hitting the stores on this Black Friday expect it to be crowded, since there will probably be more people than ever at central New York’s biggest shopping venue.

A year ago, the expansion to Destiny USA was still in its early stages, with storefronts not yet filled. This year, there are 80 or so more stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues than there were a year ago, according to Mall Manager Rob Schoeneck. That’s already meant more shoppers than in the past.

Destiny USA (US Embassy Canada, Flickr)

More and more buildings are making the push to become LEED certified, a voluntary system that rates the environmental sustainability of projects. But what is LEED and how is it used to determine how green a building is?

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The first year of Destiny USA has been a boon to the tourism industry in central New York, according to tourism officials. David Holder, president of the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotel occupancy figures show a marked increase in visitors when the bureau promotes the mall/entertainment venue. He says the geographic origin of those visitors also tells the tale.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Bus drivers who bring customers to Destiny USA in Syracuse won't be waiting in their buses for passengers to finish shopping anymore. The mall has created a new bus drivers lounge and the idea is to expand on what is already a big source of shoppers at the Syracuse mall.

Destiny USA

For the first time in Bill Ryan's 10 years of public service, Syracuse and the owner of the Destiny USA mega-sized shopping mall are not facing legal action. Ryan is a former common councilor and now chief of staff for the mayor and chairman of Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA), the city's development arm.

scottwdw / via Flickr

Some of the money collected through the tax break agreement between the Destiny USA mega-mall and Syracuse will be used to try and win federal funding for Inner Harbor improvements. The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) has approved the use of $500,000 from Destiny payments to be part of a match for a federal grant the city is applying for.

Destiny USA

The saga of the owner of the Destiny USA megamall and the city of Syracuse continues. The two appear destined to end up back in court as the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) plans to file a lawsuit against developer Robert Congel's Pyramid Group - the mall's owner - over parking lots.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York’s track record on supporting economic development projects is hit and miss.

Destiny USA

For more than 22 years shoppers have flocked to the Carousel Center Mall in Syracuse. That name goes in the history books today, as the mall is re-branded as Destiny USA.

Destiny USA

Syracuse's threat of legal action against the Destiny USA mega-mall has prompted a matching threat from the mall's developer.

The dispute involves whether the developer owes the city a $2.2 million dollar payment because of delays in the of the construction of the mall.

In 2002, Destiny USA struck a deal with the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA). The arrangement allows the mall developer to make 30 years worth of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT).

In recent months Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has been an evangelist for fiscal sustainability and a clear-eyed look at the financial challenges facing the city. Before that she was a town crier regarding the Destiny project.

Destiny USA

There's an old promotional video the developer behind the Destiny USA megamall released several years ago. It includes images of glass-enclosed golf courses, huge hotels and helicopter tours of upstate taking off from Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

Despite ending by promising "grand opening, summer 2004," you won't see any of that on the shores of Onondaga Lake today.

All you'll see is an even bigger mall - despite developer Robert Congel winning a 30-year property tax break worth about $600 million as an incentive from the city to build the Disney Land-like attraction.

It is the end of any collaboration between the City of Syracuse and the Pyramid Companies on the expansion of the Carousel Center Mall.  But the notice this week that Pyramid is calling the current work at the mall the final phase of the Destiny project may not tell the entire story.

Destiny spokesman David Aitken says this move doesn't rule out more Destiny deals in the future.

"Are we hopeful for additional development down the road?  The answer's yes.  But we are going to take it one day at a time,"says Aitken.

The expansion of Carousel Center in Syracuse could be at an end, at least for now. The developer of the mall complex that will soon be known as Destiny USA, is now calling this the final phase of the development.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city development agency found out yesterday that the developer was exercising a clause in an earlier agreement that would allow them to make this move.

You won't see many fully functioning stores as you walk into the addition from an entrance next to the Disney store. ..but you will get a taste of what destiny u-s-a is going to look like.  And the broad boulevard look underneath exposed steel beams doesn't appeal to everyone.

"it reminds my of New York City,  going through the bus station.  Port Authority,  that's what it reminds me of.  Said Sophie Lafontaine of Syracuse.

The expansion of Syracuse’s Carousel Center Mall—the first stage of the grander and still-planned project called Destiny USA—seems to be getting some traction of late.  Parts of the expansion will be open later this month.  David Aitken, a Destiny executive and spokesperson, discusses the expansion and the future plans for the project, and reflects on why the Destiny project has been such a political and economic lightning rod for the region’s residents and the media.  He also discusses the exterior appearance of the expansion and the possible tensions—and synergy—between this project and t