A Central New York visionary who was instrumental in the construction of New York State's largest mall has died.

Robert J. Congel, the founder of Pyramid Management Group, which owns Destiny USA, died Wednesday afternoon in his home in Manlius, with his wife and five children by his side. Congel's son and PMG's current CEO, Stephen J. Congel, announced the news in a statement, writing that he and his family "deeply appreciate the expression of sympathy from friends and family, colleagues, the community and business partners during this difficult time."

"Those that knew him know he was a force of nature, a visionary who saw many of his dreams realized, while challenging us constantly with many more to fulfill," Congel said, according to Spectrum Local News. "He changed many lives. Having been his son and also having the privilege of working with him for so many years, I know he was most proud of all the people he employed and whose careers he helped along the way. He gained far more joy and pride from the people that made up our company, as well as all the Pyramid alumni, than any building he ever built. The world will not be the same without him."

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Syracuse.com reports that Robert Congel originally started PMG as a small construction company in 1968, but soon dove into the world of mall development. He was instrumental in building the Carousel Center on a former scrap yard on Onondaga Lake, later proposing expansions to the soon-to-be Destiny USA that would transform it into a hub for visitors to the Central New York area.

In a statement to Syracuse.com, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said the senior Congel will be remembered as "one of the most influential business leaders in the history of Syracuse."

"His vision, tireless work ethic and determination helped transform the city of Syracuse, converting distressed and forgotten sites into valuable landmarks,” Walsh told Syracuse.com. "He turned Oil City into Destiny USA, made the old New Process Gear plant the jewel of Franklin Square and restored the old Federal Building into the majestic Clinton Exchange. My thoughts are with his family and all of the people of the Pyramid Companies."

In addition to Destiny USA, Pyramid Management Group also owns Sangertown Square in New Hartford and Salmon Run Mall in Watertown.

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