Downtown upgrade: investments in construction projects revitalize city

Micah Benson | Art Director

Large investments from public institutions and private-sector companies have resulted in $1.4 billion worth of construction projects in downtown Syracuse last year.

Out of the invested money, $264 million is being used for renovations downtown, including the building of a new Marriot Hotel and the recent relocation and upgrade of a Centro bus hub, according to Lisa Romeo, communications director for the Downtown Syracuse Committee.

This huge investment in the city of Syracuse includes support from Syracuse University, The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Crouse Hospital and the Veteran Affairs Medical Center, said Linda Hartsock, director of community engagement and economic development at SU and director of the Connective Corridor.

Private companies are involved in downtown construction as well. A 180-room Marriott Hotel will be completed next year in Armory Square, Romeo said. This will be a perfect place for visitors to stay and experience downtown Syracuse, she said.

“When students’ parents stay there for a visit, they’ll be steps away from Armory Square,” she said.

An important project that was completed this summer was the relocation of the Centro Transfer Hub to the south end of downtown Syracuse, replacing the Centro Common Center at the intersection of South Salina and Fayette streets, Romeo said. This heated and air-conditioned building will provide a more comfortable waiting area for passengers, while clearing up the once-congested South Salina Street, opening up new spaces for retail and residence areas, she said.

“Salina Street has been a real eyesore for years,” said Bob Dougherty, a Syracuse Common Council for District 3 and member of the Economic Development, Downtown and Metropolitan Planning Committee. “It’s not a coincidence the relocation of the bus station and the construction are happening at the same time.”

The next major project on South Salina Street will be the Pike Block, Romeo said. This $25 million redevelopment will take four vacant historical buildings and turn them into one residential area, she said. The 130,000-square-foot building will have 78 apartments and a ground floor with 23,000 square feet of retail space. It should be completed in early 2013, she said.

Dougherty said another priority is getting bicycles off the sidewalks. This proposal is already part of a citywide project that has been launched as part of the Connective Corridor, he said. Bike lanes have been installed on University Avenue, which will lead all the way to Forman Park. The goal is to connect the whole city by bike.

Hartsock said investors are willing to take risks in developments in Syracuse because they see the commitment from SU and the real need of a more accessible and lively downtown.

“This is a true collaborative of all these institutions and what’s unusual is this is unprecedented,” she said. “Syracuse has not seen this kind of investment in a long time.”

Downtown is the safest neighborhood in the city, and getting more people down there will help support all services in the city, Dougherty said.

“It all kind of works together,” he said. “A city needs to have a tax base. We’ve got to continue to develop things. We have to do whatever we can with what we’ve got.”


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