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Syracuse Land Bank Opens Bidding for First "Deconstructions"

side view of a house with boarded windows and a flier posted to one window board with Syracuse Landbank logo
Scott Willis

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is hoping to deal with its most blighted properties in a more sustainable way by having them deconstructed and recycled instead of demolished and sent to a landfill. The first round of bids includes three houses for deconstruction, and organizers are hoping that the pilot program will grow and result in a boost for jobs and job training opportunities in Onondaga County.
Interested contractors attended an information session Thursday, and were able to inspect any of the three homes up for bid.  One of the interested firms is Reclaim Syracuse, and Vice President James Shattell says he sees real value – both monetary and otherwise – in the crumbling houses:
The Land Bank said in a statement that it hopes the deconstructions will help return more materials into the local economy and boost economic activity, in addition to helping the environment. But deconstruction is a much more involved process than completely razing the unsightly and hazardous properties.  Katelyn Wright, Executive Director of the Land Bank, says contractors need to remember what might seem obvious:

Katelyn Wright of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank explains that her organization is looking for bids and deconstruction proposals that have thoroughly considered all the logistics of doing intricate work in a limited space.

That can be a challenge on small city lots on narrow streets.  But Wright says there appears to be plenty of interest, and she’s already taken inquiries over the phone and via e-mail. The Land Bank is handling the bidding and sales process in a method similar to many government contractors – the most attractive bidder (often the one with the most resources at its disposal) wins in the end.

Shattell wondered after this week’s information session if the competitive bid process will work for this fledgling industry in Syracuse:

James Shattell says he's concerned the cooperative sharing and discussion of best practices for deconstruction probably will be silenced by the competition that comes with a bidding process.

Still, Shattell says he’s going to bid.  The deadline for bidding on these three properties is 5:00 pm on Wednesday, July 23rd.  Another request for proposals on three more houses will follow shortly thereafter.  The land bank estimates about 20% of the properties it acquires will be too far deteriorated to be feasibly renovated.  More information is at

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
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