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Destiny USA seeks tax deal from Onondaga County for new hotel

Destiny USA
A 2016 rendering of the proposed Destiny hotel.

Two years ago, Destiny USA proposed building a $75 million hotel with about 250 rooms. Destiny is now renewing its request for a tax deal with the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency.

It’s a slightly scaled back version of the original proposal. A $48 million project with 209 rooms. Destiny wants an estimated $6.8 million in tax relief from the county agency over the next 12 years. David Aitken of Destiny said it is about growing the region’s tourism industry. 

“We have the opportunity to put our welcome mat out, bring more people to the marketplace, employ more people, grow the sales tax, the room occupancy tax and have them spend longer amounts of time when they’re here with us,” Aitken said. "More hospitality is a good thing for this community. There is a transformation going on with our waterfront that’s been dreamed about, hoped for and is taking place at the present time.”

The tax deal does come with some community benefits. Destiny is promising that 15 percent of the 225 construction jobs will go to minority or women owned businesses. Destiny also said 50 percent of the 70 permanent jobs at the hotel will go to residents of the city of Syracuse. The company would face fines if they fail to meet that projection. Destiny worked closely with the county agency after recent public opposition to another tax deal for COR Development's Inner Harbor project, which is not too far away from Destiny and includes a hotel.

 Pat Hogan one of board members for the county agency said it’s a good deal. 

“We have to recognize New York state is a high tax state and sometimes we have to get developers to do jobs like this that are going to benefit the community as a whole," Hogan said. "Especially with jobs which are critical for the city of Syracuse and the residents of the city of Syracuse."

The Destiny shopping complex is already receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks. It was built on a former site that housed fuel-storage tanks.

"Development is a key to bringing this city back," Hogan said. "This area was a polluted wasteland, we brought it back for quite some time now. There are developers investing in properties and there is a great transformation.”

The development agency will hold a public hearing in the next 10 days, review the comments and then vote on the tax deal.