City

Project that would demolish Chuck’s is still multiple steps away

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

BLVD Equities still must apply for construction and demolition permits before moving forward. Additionally, the developers have submitted a request to the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency of $1.7 million in mortgage and sales tax breaks that have yet to be approved.

The city construction project that would demolish Hungry Chuck’s and other businesses on South Crouse Avenue is still a few steps away from implementation.

BLVD Equities, a real estate development firm based in New Jersey, recently had its proposal approved by the city’s Planning Commission to demolish the structures at 727 S. Crouse Ave. — where Chuck’s and Funk ‘n Waffles, among other businesses, are located — and construct an eight-story “mixed use building.”

But the developers still must apply for construction and demolition permits before moving forward. Additionally, the developers have submitted a request to the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency for $1.7 million in mortgage and sales tax breaks that have yet to be approved.

Honora Spillane, the deputy commissioner of Syracuse’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, said that while the conceptual idea of the project fits the city’s criteria, it has yet to be officially approved. Project developers still need to acquire a construction permit and a demolition permit from the city’s Code Enforcement department, she said.

The developers are also still waiting to hear whether their request to the IDA for tax abatements will be approved. The IDA reviewed the developers’ request at its meeting in January, Spillane said, and is currently accepting written comments.

The IDA will hold a hearing ahead of its Feb. 28 meeting, during which members of the public can share their thoughts on the project.

When the public comment period is over, the IDA will then be able to vote on whether to accept the proposal as a project of the agency and approve the tax abatements. The IDA’s first opportunity to hold that vote will be at its Feb. 28 meeting, Spillane said.

If the IDA approves the tax abatements, the developers would likely go forward with applying for their construction permits. If the IDA doesn’t approve the abatements, though, the developers will have to decide whether the project is financially feasible without the savings that would come with the tax abatements.

“They can’t move forward if they’re going to avail themselves of those tax abatements until they have approval (from the agency),” Spillane said.

If the permits and abatements are approved, construction could begin as early as next month. In paperwork filed with the city last month, the developers listed March 1 as the start date for construction and Aug. 1, 2018, as the first date of occupation. The paperwork does, however, refer to those dates as “approximate,” and those involved with the project have previously been reluctant to share a strict timeline.

The total budget for the project, according to that paperwork, is $40.5 million, with $29 million of that going toward construction of the new building.

The eight-story, mixed-use building would include approximately 16,800 square feet of retail space and 287 beds for student housing. Stephen Theobald, the owner of Chuck’s, has said he plans to move into the new space if the developers move forward with the project.

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