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Perinton firm, Tops expecting Syracuse deal

Rochester Business Journal
August 24, 2012

Morgan Management LLC expects to close soon on the purchase of a grocery previously owned by Wegmans Food Markets Inc. in Syracuse, with Tops Holding Corp. set to open a Tops Friendly Markets store at the location by year's end.

Wegmans shuttered its grocery there June 30, a month after announcing the plan, to the dismay of neighborhood residents. The 32,800-square-foot building is on First North Street near Pond Street, on the city's north side.

"It is a residential area that without Wegmans doesn't have a grocery store," said Kevin Morgan, vice president at the Perinton firm. "Everybody feels strongly about having a quality place for people to buy groceries."

Morgan Pond Street LLC and Tops Markets LLC are seeking tax breaks from the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency. The IDA this week scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 18.

Morgan Pond Street has applied for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement freezing the property's tax assessment for seven years. It would then increase to full assessment over the next three years.

The application also requests an exemption from the state tax on mortgage recordings, saving the developer $17,000. Tops wants sales tax exemptions on construction materials and fixtures related to a $550,000 renovation, saving some $46,000.

"We're hoping that if the SIDA supports our request for a PILOT program, we'll be able to finalize the deal with Tops and have them open their doors before the end of the year," Morgan said.

It would be the first grocery store for Morgan Management in the Syracuse market.

"We heard that Wegmans was closing that store," Morgan said. "We know the market pretty well. It was a site where we felt there was a need for a grocery store."

After Morgan Management expressed interest in buying the vacant property, Tops said it would like to occupy the store, Morgan said.

"Everybody that had their ear to the ground, including grocery stores, had an interest in it," he said.

The parcel of more than three acres is assessed at $1.5 million, with a land value of $161,000, Onondaga County records show. Its full market value is listed at more than $1.8 million.

Morgan Management has developed four apartment complexes in the Syracuse area, including the recently completed 416-unit Rivers Pointe community in Clay. The company also owns a Kinney Drugs store in Liverpool.

Additional groceries under Morgan Management could follow the Tops project.

"We're hoping for more," Morgan said.

"We're excited about the possibility of working with them again in the city of Syracuse," said Tops Markets president and CEO Frank Curci.

Tops opened a grocery in Morgan Management's Spencerport Village Plaza in August 2010, spending $3.5 million to renovate an IGA location vacated five years earlier. Morgan Management is building a grocery for Tops on Hamilton Street in Geneva, Ontario County. The new store will replace the existing Tops on that street.

"We've done a couple of stores with Morgan Management, and we think they're an excellent developer," Curci said. "They've brought us good sites in the past.

"We're looking at other opportunities throughout the area with them. ... They're great to work with. They have great vision and do some things that we want to be a part of."

Tops works with various developers for its new stores, said Curci, whose company is based in Williamsville, Erie County.

The developer usually initiates talk of a new grocery, Curci said.

"Sometimes we'll identify an area where we want to be and look for developers to help us," he said. "It can work either way."

Morgan Management also partners with PriceRite, a discount grocery based in Con-necticut.

A 38,000-square-foot PriceRite anchors a Morgan Management commercial devel-

opment on University Avenue at Culver Road. The company also owns a space in Buffalo leased to PriceRite.

Morgan Management's recent local projects include Saratoga Crossings, a soon-to-be-completed upscale apartment complex of 295 units in Farmington, Ontario County.

It just finished two projects in Webster, the Preserve at Wood Creek on Preservation Trail and the second phase of the Webster Green communities on Rousseau Drive.

tadams@rbj.net / 585-546-8303

8/24/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.

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