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Development picks up at Iron Pier project in Inner Harbor

By Traci DeLore

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Cafe Blue will open later this year at 720 Van Rensselaer St. in the Iron Pier Apartments building. The apartments are part of an Inner Harbor housing and commercial mixed-use project by COR Development Co., LLC of Fayetteville. (PHOTO CREDIT: IRON PIER APARTMENTS FACEBOOK PAGE)

SYRACUSE — COR Development Company, LLC, is wrapping things up with the second phase of its Iron Pier development project in the Syracuse Inner Harbor and getting ready to move on to the third phase.

The real-estate development company is busy leasing out commercial space in its Iron Pier Apartments, which consists of two four-story buildings with 112 apartments and 37,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space.

First opened in 2018, all apartments at Iron Pier are fully occupied and there is a wait list, says Steven Aiello, director of community and external relations and assistant director of finance at COR.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, things moved a little slower when it came to leasing out the commercial space, he says. “Now momentum is really picking up.”

Iron Pier’s first anchor tenant, Meier’s Creek Brewing Company at Inner Harbor, opened this past January. “It’s been a great success this summer, especially with the public,” Aiello says of the taproom and eatery, which is a satellite location for the Meier’s Creek brewery in Cazenovia.

The pub is popular with Iron Pier tenants as well as walkers and bikers enjoying the Inner Harbor, he adds. And now, a new eatery will be opening soon right next door.

Cafe Blue, operated by Blueberries & Lace food truck owner Olivia Orlando, will open later this year next to Meier’s Creek Brewing.

Image Credit: COR Development

“There has been a lot of demand for coffee and pastries,” Aiello says. The café will be open in the mornings into lunch serving soups, salads, and sandwiches.

“We think it’s going to be the perfect compliment for now and future development,” he says. “We know she (Orlando) is going to do an absolutely fantastic job.”

Orlando’s Blueberries & Lace food truck regularly participates in events in the Inner Harbor, so her food is already well known to residents, Aiello adds. He expects the permitting process to wrap up in early fall with an end-of-year opening planned for the café.

Interest in the remaining commercial space at Iron Pier has picked up significantly now that places like Meier’s Creek and the 315 Beauty Bar salon, which opened in 2019, are up and running. Onondaga County’s planned $85 million aquarium project to create a tourist attraction is only adding to the interest form other businesses wanting to locate in the Inner Harbor, Aiello says.

It all comes together to create a vision for a vibrant waterfront district that is also connected to downtown Syracuse via the Onondaga Creek. The nearly five-mile path runs from the Inner Harbor to Armory Square and beyond to Kirk Park.

COR’s overall plan for the Iron Pier project includes 600 housing units and up to an additional 100,000 square feet of commercial space. The first phase was the Aloft Syracuse Inner Harbor hotel, located at 310 West Kirkpatrick St. “Having all that built together ... really is what makes these live, work, play, dine locations successful,” Aiello notes.

“It’s not just about how many buildings can be built,” he says. “A big part of this is events and programming.” It’s about having businesses that serve the daily needs of tenants and activities for tenants and others to enjoy.”

That said, with a waiting list for housing, COR is moving forward with its third planned phase of Iron Pier and is currently designing senior housing and a new building that will hold more market-rate apartments.

Between the amenities already in place, the aquarium, and even the potential for a chip fabrication plant in Onondaga County, Aiello says things are looking bright for the Syracuse Inner Harbor and the region as a whole. “The outlook for upstate is very positive.”       

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