All you need to do is take a ride through various sections of our city and see construction. Not the typical Family Dollar, Dunkin Donuts, or Cell phone store, which has been our primary source of growth in neighborhoods, this is a housing boom. The most dramatic change came with the completion of Syracuse University’s Connective Corridor. This path between S.U. campus and their Nancy Canter Warehouse has provided a catalyst for investment in the housing market along E. Fayette Street through downtown into the near Westside. Buildings are being converted into high-end residential as quickly as they can be acquired. Buildings many of us have known for years as locations for business or industrial occupancy are now being transformed into glistening condominiums and apartments, towering over the crumbling infrastructure below.
Massive apartment complexes have sprung up seemingly overnight. Once a forested area, the Thurber Ave. neighborhood has a large complex preparing for occupancy, hundreds of apartments are being built, targeting nearby Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate students.
The State Tower Building once a towering symbol home to businesses such as lawyers and accountants is converting the top 13 floors into residential. The Chimes building located at 500 Salina Street, top floors, residential.
Clinton Plaza, the long neglected housing tower in Armory Square has received funding to renovate the entire building with the provision that a portion of the residential tower remains “affordable”. The developer is known for redeveloping properties into affordable living spaces. This is a departure from the rush to build high end housing.
The block that houses Liberty Deli, has been purchased and will soon be razed to make way for another residential/mixed use project.
On S. Crouse Ave. the old strip plaza long outdated is being razed for the construction of another residential project with retail space located below. Not a block away, one of the tallest projects will soon grace the corner of Adams and University Avenue, another residential project responding to the apparent consumers thirst for newly constructed housing. Or is it?
Left in the wake of this housing boom are existing rental units that currently provide housing to the Syracuse University community. These once family occupied homes have long since become crucial housing for the expanding university. The Westcott street area, which includes; Landcaster Ave., Euclid Ave, etc. are now in competition with developers of newly constructed apartments complete with amenities.
Not just on Campus
Miles away from campus, there are even more apartments and condominiums newly opened or under development. The Connective Corridor has been leveraged to the point where there’s development occurring that extends from campus through to the Near Westside of Syracuse. Neighborhoods such as Tipperary Hill are building also. St. Patrick’s School is now fully renovated apartments. Not far from the Irish landmark, Coleman’s, the owner has built a new home within sight of the famous Syracuse restaurant.
Once these multiple projects are fully functional there could be a housing glut in the Syracuse area. Older rental units, more costly to operate housing will start to vacate, first to empty will be the uninsulated, poorly maintained rentals. Due to competition from the various housing options now available, university area property owners will no longer get top dollar for their older dwellings.
Most new residential projects planned are closer to campus; some include air conditioning and in-house amenities. Syracuse University is floating the idea of requiring students to live on campus for 3 years. Their 20 year plan calls for the consolidation of all housing to the main campus. And the creation of University owned, “City Neighborhoods”.
The rest of “Us”
We have somewhere between 800 – 1,200 houses that are vacant and are in need of rehabilitation or need to be torn down. These buildings dot Syracuse neighborhoods impacting the quality of life in every community. It’s refreshing to see the cranes in the air, new residents moving into Syracuse.
But, what about the rest of us, those of us who’ve not fled to the suburbs?
Unfortunately, for those who are living in areas not receiving the new construction, the conditions remain the same. Houses that are barley being held together with duct tape and mix-match roofing, complemented by totally broke down commercial business locations remain, in many cases empty and rotting for decades. These “zombie” properties aren’t getting the attention required to have fair redevelopment of our city. For the poor, and for those who can’t afford the high rents, these conditions aren’t going away.