Downtown Syracuse is in a transformational moment. Reflecting on the last few years, I have watched our city reimagine its landscape into a thriving community with amazing places for people to explore and beautiful real estate for people to call home.
Our mission is to build a thriving downtown that is welcoming, diverse, safe, and accessible.
The success of downtown Syracuse’s revitalization is a collaborative effort from community partners, residents, business owners, and investors who share the vision of our city center as a social hub and a place for people to connect. This partnership and dedication have helped downtown Syracuse to earn the reputation as a destination for memorable and meaningful experiences.
In the last year, $180 million in new investment has occurred in downtown Syracuse, creating seven new Class A office headquarters, more than 135 new housing units and enhanced public infrastructure, and tourism amenities. We have welcomed 26 new businesses including 11 retail shops, nine food and drink establishments, five personal-service businesses, and an entertainment facility. Looking ahead, we anticipate $26 million more in investment to occur before the end of the 2023 calendar year.
One of the most notable areas of investment is in downtown’s housing. There are more than 2,800 apartments and condos in the district with another 120 additional apartments under construction this year. This represents 4 percent growth in housing, this year, alone. Every downtown Syracuse neighborhood is experiencing investment, including the following highlights:
• Work continues at the Mizpah Towers where new apartments, along with commercial and retail space are being added through a $6.7 million investment.
• In downtown’s southern district, construction is underway as the former annex of the Hotel Syracuse is transformed into Symphony Place. This $17.4 million redevelopment will result in two floors of commercial space and
• In Hanover Square:
- The upper floors of 246 E. Water St. have been converted into two apartments, and two retail spaces are being improved on the ground floor.
- On East Genesee Street, a historic renovation of the Granite Building is underway. Vacant upper floors will become market-rate housing and the building’s canal-era façade will be restored for a new retail space.
- At the former M&T Bank Building, 119 new residences have been added through a $23 million investment. Now called The Treasury, the building also features unique event space, with more than 500 onsite public-parking spaces to support demand in Hanover and Clinton Squares.
• In Armory Square:
- A new six-story mixed-use building is planned to transform the existing Armory Parking Garage into THE CLINTON at Armory Square. This $18 million investment will bring new vitality to the neighborhood and is scheduled to begin construction in the first quarter of 2024. A 100-car parking garage on the lower levels, with residential and commercial space above will energize a key downtown location. An open courtyard on the second level will overlook Clinton and Walton Streets.
- ne block away, the 128-year-old Bentley Settle Building is being converted into 30 residential units. A new restaurant, called The Whiskey Coop, is slated to open in the lower level.
This residential growth has helped attract new businesses to our city’s core. Employers see the value of a downtown Syracuse location and the amenities it offers as both a talent attractor and retention tool.
In Clinton Square, VIP Structures completed its $32 million renovation of The Post, adding employer density and new headquarters locations for Chase Design and VIP. NBT Bank will also be part of the development by moving its Central New York regional headquarters to The Post.
On Columbus Circle, the Carnegie Building has entered a new chapter. The neighborhood has been reinvigorated with the move of Onondaga County’s economic development, community development, and planning offices, along with CNY Arts, into the property, thanks to a $4 million renovation by the county.
FustCharles relocated to downtown Syracuse and into Merchants Commons on South Warren Street this past spring, bringing its employees to shop, dine, and enjoy downtown’s offerings.
Two blocks away, Hayner Hoyt’s $37 million conversion of the former Sibley’s Department Store into “City Center” has transformed the feel of South Salina Street. The building’s roster includes office headquarters for:
• Huntington Ingalls Industries
• The Hayner Hoyt Corporation
• And Impel
At Equitable Towers, renovations have created fresh, new office space. Next door, work is underway on an expansion to The Tech Garden as CenterState CEO adds a two-story addition, more than doubling the incubator’s space. The additional 46,000 square feet will create a new and improved campus to reimagine who is served and how and drive more equity and inclusivity through programs it offers. A new façade will also better reflect the innovation system supported by the building.
These are transformational projects that not only activate underutilized spaces, but also call attention to the power of downtown as a destination. Earlier this year, downtown Syracuse welcomed its first e-sports arena, ELITE Gaming, located in the historic Armory Building. This facility has put Syracuse on the map for the gaming industry and helps boost year-round tourism. Working with nearby partners, this anchor will broaden opportunities for students through educational programs, team competitions, and exposure to career opportunities.
Partners like Famous Artists present major Broadway shows downtown, enlivening the Civic Center and Landmark Theatre.
The Redhouse Arts Center announced its upcoming season, which will take our community on a journey through the arts. With timeless classics, family shows, and a thriller, the season’s lineup has something for everyone.
The Onondaga Historical Association’s new exhibit, “Come in from the Cold,” puts our community’s unique winter fashions on full display. At the Everson Museum, exhibits by Frank Buffalo Hyde and Doug Muir are drawing national attention and acclaim.
Recognizing the important role arts and culture play in fostering our community’s identity and attracting visitors, the City of Syracuse and Common Council established the Syracuse Festival Fund. Over 12 months, this fund supported the recovery of 26 events. The Syracuse Festival Fund continues to support the important role arts and culture play in our community with a new $135,000 budget for the year ahead.
Continued investment will be the key to transforming how we experience our city center. In late 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) projects for awarded cities across New York state, including the city of Syracuse. The $10 million grant will focus on projects that improve walkability, connectivity, housing, and business opportunities between the Southwest Gateway and downtown Syracuse.
Later this fall, you will start to see enhancements associated with downtown’s $100,000 grant from the City of Syracuse’s Commercial Corridor Improvement Fund. These funds, matched with funding from our Downtown Syracuse Foundation, will support seven blocks of LED street tree lighting and over the next year, up to nine new gateway signs.
All of these incremental projects and investments have created a critical mass that can be seen and felt when you are in downtown Syracuse. Companies and people now see downtown as an asset — a place to be and explore, and as the heart of the community. We continue to make progress because our partners share a long-term vision for vibrancy. Thank you for your continued partnership.
Merike Treier is executive director of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse, Inc. In this role, she leads a team to support a dynamic, vibrant downtown and promote future growth through economic development and revitalization initiatives, marketing and events, security, and environmental maintenance. Treier is also president of the Downtown Syracuse Foundation, Inc. Contact her at MTreier@DowntownSyracuse.com