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Medley, RBTL have theater deal

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It's a busy week in Medley Centre news. First, the East Irondequoit school board approved a measure requiring Medley Centre developer Scott Congel to pay several hundred thousand dollars for missing an investment milestone.

And now, Arnie Rothschild, chair of Rochester Broadway Theatre League's board, says that Congel has agreed to build a 3,000-seat theater, which would be leased and programmed by RBTL, in Medley Centre. RBTL wouldn't have to raise any money — the sticking point that has prevented RBTL from getting a new theater up to this point.

Congel would also pay off RBTL's debt on the Auditorium Theatre, which would be renovated into a smaller theater, Rothschild says. RBTL would still own and program the Aud, he says.

Many in the public remain skeptical of the Medley Centre project. Physically, the site shows no signs of progress. The mall proper is vacant except for two remaining department stores. And the East Irondequoit school district is enforcing a provision of the developer's payment in lieu of taxes agreement that requires him to make a payment if he fails to meet a development milestone.

Congel was supposed to have invested $90 million in the project, which includes apartments, retail, and at least one hotel, by April 30. But district officials say he missed the mark by about $25 million. Now they want him to pay an $827, 722 fee, of which approximately $550,000 would go to the district. The money is due in January, when Congel makes his annual PILOT payment.

If Congel doesn't pay up, he could be held in default of the PILOT, says John Abbott, East Irondequoit's deputy superintendent.

But the issue may not be over. COMIDA says Congel has invested enough in the project. The difference of opinion is significant because Congel could sue the district to prevent assessment of the extra payment.

Despite the issue with the school district, Rothschild says he's confident Congel will move forward with the Medley Centre project, including the theater.

"I believe strongly that he'll be able to do it," Rothschild says.

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