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New Vision for Shoppintown has Retail, Entertainment, Affordable Housing Condos; Built by Local Developers

District East Shoppingtown Entrance.jpg
District East Artist Rendering
This could be what the entrance to Shoppingtown looks like in a few years. Local development group has deal to buy, repurpose.

A vision of the future for the Shoppingtown Mall site was unveiled today. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon announced a consortium of local developers will turn it into a combination of residential spaces, some retail and restaurants, entertainment and senior living. The group, O-H-B Redev (REE-dev) calls their project ‘District East’. Developer Ryan Benz says their research shows the troubled site is promising .

“These are some of the most affluent neighborhoods in our market. You look at the traffic on Genesee Street to Erie Boulevard, in addition we think of the future, in terms of (Interstate) 81 and how that could affect this side of town as well. So, all of these things are attributes that would make, from a leasing (standpoint), this site really attractable.”

He adds they’ve already attracted interested tenants for retail space that’s still on the drawing board.

District East Shoppingtown People.jpg
District East - Artist Rendering
Housing on multiple levels - condos, apartments, moderate-income and senior - are slated to be part of the District East project

County Executive McMahon explains the eight (M) million dollar sales price allows the county to recoup what it paid to take control, and a portion of the delinquent taxes … while turning a page on the problem.

“We’ve gone through a nightmare with this property watching really one of the most unique properties in one of our more affluent communities just sit here and rot. So, we didn’t want to award to another company that wasn’t really vested here or committed here just based on sales price.”

He explains the group was picked partly because of local ties. Benz put together a team of local entities that he says would have a stake in the area’s future.

“When I think of construction I think of Andy Breuer and Huber-Breuer and Charlie Breuer and those guys and their reputation and their ability to deliver. When I think of great architects in our town, I think of DalPos Architects. And when it comes to repositioning and reopening malls, I think of DalPos. And then, when I think of creating an inclusive community and making sure that the new version of Central New York is one full of equity and justice and fairness, and with that we brought in Housing Visions.”

The project promises to include apartments, some for moderate earners, condominiums, and senior housing. There’s no firm timetable for construction to begin. Developers say they’ll be building the project in segments. Benz figures they’ll use about half of the existing mall structure, perhaps including the parking garage and movie theater.

Shoppingtown vacant inside.jpg
Chris Bolt/WAER News
Very little dining, fun, or fashion had been going on in recent years, as the once cutting-edge mall dwindled in occupancy, then went bankrupt and closed under Moonbeam Capital ownership

McMahon can see the 300 (M) million-dollar project benefitting the local employment market as well.

“There’ll be approximately 400 construction jobs that will be needed to do this project over the course of the phases of the project. And at the end of this project, it’s anticipated that there could be as many as 1400 permanent jobs here on this new project called District East.”

Next up will be negotiating a tax incentive deal and getting county legislature approval on what he expects to be a welcome future for declining, then shuttered mall.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.