SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A group of developers has plans to renovate the buildings at 321-323 S. Salina St. into a $4.2 million mixed-use development called Whitney Lofts.
Project developers include Ryan Benz, Leigh Ann Boatman-Benz, Steve Case, and Shashank Bhatt.
It targets “two of Syracuse’s oldest and most blighted buildings,” Benz said in his remarks outside 321 S. Salina St. on Wednesday afternoon.
The project includes 16 new apartments on the upper floors, a 5,500-square-foot restaurant and speakeasy on the ground floor. The apartment lobby will be along Bank Alley. The project will also include a separate entrance on South Salina Street.
Amenities will include a tenant gym and a rooftop-garden terrace overlooking South Salina Street.
Rich & Gardner Construction Company of Syracuse is the contractor on the project, while Dalpos Architects & Integrators, also of Syracuse, is the designer.
“As we went through our due diligence on what it would take to revive these historic buildings, we quickly realized that without participating in critical, historic tax credits, the project is 100 percent not feasible,” said Benz.
The costs to renovate two, 160-year-old buildings is “absolutely cost prohibitive” without the help of the historic tax credits. The Central New York regional economic-development council (REDC) and Empire State Development are also providing support, he added.
Historic tax credits
The building’s renovation is eligible for historic tax credits because it is part of the South Salina Downtown Corridor, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, according to a news release from U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.)
The Democrat joined the developers for their noon-hour announcement on South Salina Street.
The building at 321 S. Salina St. previously housed the Park Brannock Shoe Store, where the Brannock device, which is used to measure shoe size, was first invented and manufactured, Schumer’s office said.
Before the federal government can award the project historic tax credits, the National Park Service (NPS) must decide whether the building’s original façade from the 1930’s with windows “properly represents” the building’s “period of historic significance,” according to Schumer’s news release.
The determination is “critical” because the federal government can only award historic preservation tax credits to projects that maintain a property’s “period of significance.”
Schumer argues that the 1930’s facade maintains the building’s historic character, and is also “vital” to the developers’ plans for rehabilitating the property.
Schumer has written to both the NPS and the New York State Historic Preservation Office to support the original facade and subsequently award historic tax credits to the project.
The development group owns the building at 321 S. Salina St. is on contract to purchase 323 S. Salina St. They’ll move forward on completing the acquisition of 323 S. Salina St. once the National Park Service approves, according to Benz.
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