DEWITT, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Companies that want to buy and redevelop the now-closed ShoppingTown Mall can begin submitting proposals to the property’s current owner, Onondaga County.
The criteria include that “the successful proposer will be required to demonstrate, among other things, how their development will enhance the quality of life for residents in the Town of DeWitt, Onondaga County, and Central New York.”
At the end of 2020, Onondaga County bought the property from its longtime owner Moonbeam Capital for around $3 million. The purchase ended months of legal battles between the parties over Moonbeam’s failure to pay nearly $8 million in taxes.
“We’re the vehicle to stop the bleeding and get rid of the biggest absentee landlord we’ve had in this community,” Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said during NewsChannel 9’s exclusive tour of the mall.
McMahon hopes to get some of the lost money back in a sale, but what’s not made back he argues is worth getting rid of the absentee landlord he once called “the Grinch.”
“Part of the request-for-proposal process that we’re weighing is the sale price. That’s not the driving factor, though. The driving factor is that we get a project [that’s] going to be a sustainable economic engine for this community and we’re not worried about being paid taxes.”
McMahon expects the proposals to include a mix of retail, apartments, senior housing, office space, community areas, and walkable parks.
The application process is open for 90 days.
In the meantime, Onondaga County’s facilities department has to make immediate improvements to the building just to protect it through winter.
Commissioner of Facilities Management, Archie Wixson, tells NewsChannel 9: “There’s a lot of trouble here. Systems weren’t maintained. There was no maintenance investment for years. The roof needs some immediate attention. HVAC system is trouble. We need to keep this building intact until a new developer takes control of it.”
The areas that don’t need as much improvement have been scouted for use as a county coronavirus vaccination site. The Emergency Management and Health Departments have decided on the old community library.
The county has the space and nurses on standby, but won’t be able to open a second clinic until there is more vaccine supply.
There isn’t even enough vaccine supply to max out the resources at the county’s first clinic at the Oncenter, which can do up to 18,000 doses per week. This week, only 1,000 shots are available.
Once it opens, the county executive hopes the clinic will offer a glimpse into what ShoppingTown Mall will look like busy again.