County seizing property near Marketplace Mall for mystery project

Apr 15, 2019
Originally published on April 16, 2019 5:54 am

The owners of The Marketplace Mall are working with Monroe County to acquire the vacant Macy’s that is at that site.

The county’s economic development agency, Imagine Monroe, held a public hearing on the eminent domain proposal Monday in Henrietta. Eminent domain allows the government to take over private property for public use. In this case, Imagine Monroe plans to sell the property to Wilmorite, which owns the rest of the mall.

Wilmorite said it plans to use the land for a project that it said would be “transformative” for the shopping center.

But officials said a non-disclosure agreement prevents them from commenting further right now on what the new project entails.

Even Imagine Monroe Executive Director Jeff Adair said he has no idea what is going to be built in the area or how much it will cost. Adair said that previously signed agreements with the county prevent the building’s owner from selling directly to Wilmorite.

That vagueness is one of many concerns that attorney Kathleen Bennett, who represents the neighboring J.C. Penney’s, has.

Bennett said the mystery surrounding the new project is “very unfair” to other businesses in the mall.

“So that your notice is so vague that you can’t tell anybody what’s going to happen at this particular project and expect them to respond effectively,” she said.

Bennett said the project could also hurt J.C. Penney’s business.

“They’re also potentially removing one of their entranceways where about 20% of their customers access the stores,” Bennett said.

Adair said her concerns are noted.

“That’s why we have public hearings to find out what it is that their concerns are,” said Adair. “We’ll use the next days and weeks to figure out how to respond to them.”

Adair said this is just the beginning of the process, and Wilmorite said more details about the project are coming. Officials gave no timeline, however.