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Multimillion dollar housing project to transform the American Legion building in Eastwood into apartments

John Smith / WAER News
The current American Legion building at the corner of James Street and Nichols Avenue in Syracuse.

The American Legion Building at the corner James Street and Nichols Avenue in Eastwood is about to get a multi-million dollar major transformation into market rate apartments. Both the developer and the Onondaga County Executive say it’s an opportunity to expand living options during the housing shortage. Ryan McMahon says many people aren’t taking advantage of selling their homes at significantly higher market rates. However, he suggests some might consider a different way of living.

“The reality is if you’re gonna build a house today that’s going to cost you a half a million dollars, right? Hard stop. It doesn't matter what you’re doing today. And so only so many people today can qualify for a half a million dollar home.”

McMahon hopes the Taft Building could be ready in time for Micron’s opening in 2025 with a mix of low-income to market rate units.

“If this property gets in the wrong hands, it’s not an asset for the community anymore. That’s why it’s so important that Steven and developers really go at these local based projects, as well.”

Steven Skinner says his company purchased the building for just over $800,000 dollars and helped to relocate American Legion into the former Friendly’s building on James Street.

“This building is going to be 28 market-rent apartments for Eastwood. It will be one of a kind, first of its kind for the area. We are looking to make this thing something beautiful. You know, something like you would see in a downtown apartment building. But Eastwood does not have anything like this.”

The county has awarded Skinner with a $140,000 dollar O-CHIP grant for the Taft Building which was originally a school. Skinner says work could start soon on the six million dollar project, pending the remaining permits. He owns several properties in Eastwood including the Palace Theater. McMahon says The O-CHIP Program has supported the creation of 393 housing units with $1.775 million in funding.

One of the original classrooms still left intact at the American Legion in Eastwood.
John Smith / WAER News
One of the original classrooms still left intact at the American Legion in Eastwood.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.