Here’s another in our continuing series of new posts featuring a look at news happening around Rochester.
Irondequoit’s Medley Centre, Monroe County’s only dead mall, has certainly seen its fair share of challenges, and this month’s newest obstacle appears to have been the last straw both for the city and for one of the mall’s few remaining tenants.
Town Supervisor Adam Bello, only 12 days into his first term, reports that he has been called into the Centre twice this week for emergencies, including a burst pipe within the mall that flooded the loading docks near Sears with as much as four feet of water on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps Bello would have been more lenient with the Centre’s developer, Scott Congel, had Congel not been specifically contacted by the Town Fire Marshal on January 2nd about preventing such an incident.
On Tuesday, December 31st, when the pump station on East Ridge Road had developed massive cracks in its outside walls, freezing the 8-inch pipes inside, Town Fire Marshal Gregory Merrick contacted Congel, asking him to take “immediate mitigation measures to prevent a catastrophic failure of the water system to the mall and/or the structural collapse of the building.” With no response from Congel, Supervisor Bello authorized town officials to address the problem with “temporary steps,” like insulating it and placing heaters inside it, billing Congel for the work.
Regrettably, the town’s efforts did not manage to prevent the worst from occurring. When the pipe burst, firefighters found that Congel had neglected to shut off the water pipes that had subsequently thawed and burst. Fed up with Congel’s apparent neglect of the property, Bello announced plans to meet with the police chief and fire marshal his week in order to determine whether the property is in violation of any more town codes. Speaking with 13 WHAM Rochester, he explained, “Code violations like this have been allowed to exist and we’re not going to do that. We’re not going to sit down while this kind of thing happens.”
A statement issued Sunday revealed that mall owners are now requesting an investigation into whether the mall’s recent problems have been orchestrated by people who are attempting to create media buzz about the project’s challenges in moving forward. The news was closely followed by the shattering news that Macy’s will be leaving the mall as part of its chain-wide restructuring, though the store was unaffected by Sunday’s leaks.
Unfortunately, the news of Medley Centre’s demise is hardly a surprise to many area residents. Its featured segment on DeadMalls.com recounts a troubling history fraught with defection of local shoppers to the Eastview Mall, and the sale of the premises by Wilmorite, the local mall giant owning the Eastview, Marketplace, and Greece Ridge Malls, as well as the Pittsford Plaza. While Medley Centre has grown increasingly empty, Wilmorite’s other properties have managed to maintain great success with droves of shoppers, thanks to reports of high quality shopping experiences and an abundance of diverse retail stores. About Medley Centre, however, DeadMalls.com contributor Paul Dampier ruminates, “Mall walkers remain the most commonly visible people at Medley Centre,” an observation that hardly bodes well for the centre’s popularity.
Reports that Congel currently owes Irondequoit between $3-4 million dollars have done nothing to bolster the confidence of area shoppers with hopes of Medley Centre’s triumphant return. Bello told 13 WHAM, “The ball is really in his court at this point as far as that’s concerned.” That bill, penalty fees for missed milestones, and a combination of regular PILOT payments have all accumulated and are due on February 1. While Congel’s intentions seem to be unclear, many are afraid that the future of the mall is not. Rather, they seem to be written on the abandoned walls of the derelict shopping centre, from its lonely carousel to the soon-empty place where Macy’s once stood.