With community support, the Westcott Remix development is back on track
You can’t miss Dorian’s on Westcott Street in downtown Syracuse. Located on the site of an old gas station, the famed local pizza joint is set far back away from the sidewalk. That leaves a lot of space unused, which the Westcott Remix project hopes to solve.
When developers in 2019 first proposed transforming the building into a residential and commercial space, the project faced community opposition and was rejected by the Syracuse zoning board. After a number of changes, the plan is back on track with the support of the neighborhood and on its way toward approval.
“The building, what it’s going to accomplish, is repair this missing tooth in the street with a mixed-use development with lots of variety,” said Damian Vallelonga.
Vallelonga is the lead developer of the Remix project. He spoke to locals at a meeting of Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today Eastside in February. The new version of the project has changed the minds of some Westcott neighborhood locals who were skeptical before.
“I regretfully, you know, had to speak against the project even though I was sympathetic in principle,” said Samuel Gruber.
Gruber is a longtime Westcott resident and a member of the board of the Westcott Neighborhood Association. He’s a historian interested in historic preservation and urban history, and has been working on a proposal to get the Westcott neighborhood designated as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. When the original Westcott Remix was presented, he felt it didn’t fit into the character of the neighborhood.
“They had the right attitude but were trying to pack too much into that space,” Gruber said.
That brought some major changes to the design: Developers heard the community's concerns and reduced the height of the project from three floors instead of four, and that reduced the residential unites down to 19 instead of 33. Now, it won’t be the tallest building on the street, but the same height as the Westcott Theater.
Still, the main concern for residents has been constant throughout the process: parking. However, Gruber said that can be solved with a little extra effort.
“There is a lot of parking in this neighborhood if people were willing to, you know, to walk a few blocks,” Gruber said.
The developers are also trying to lease a limited number of parking spots that would be reserved for building residents from the city. Common Councilor Joe Driscoll said they’re going through the process of applying for all the permits to begin construction but haven’t found a date for the pre-development meeting with the city’s economic development team.
If everything is approved and the Remix building is constructed, Vallelonga said one of the first tenants will be Dorian’s.