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Another Downtown Syracuse Building Makes Switch to 'The Neighborhood'

Scott Willis/WAER News

The former Excellus Building on South Warren Street in Syracuse marked a milestone today as Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul cut the ribbon on its transformation into a mixed-use space called Icon Tower.

“This project, vacant for nine years, sort of taunting people as they walk by, saying the best was in the past.  And then you have true believers who say, ‘no, this building can be part of the downtown comeback’.”

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
Lt Gov Kathy Hochul helped cut ribbon and said the successful project, which is virtually full already, can spur future downtown development .

The state chipped in $2.3 million for the $20 million project. Developer Grazi Zazzara says they had no trouble leasing the 89 apartments…

“Well beyond our expectations…within four months, we’re basically 100 % full.  We have one apartment left.”

He attributes the response to their location.

“We’re 2 blocks from Armory Square, so you’re a little away from the nightlife and all of that, but you’re 2 blocks away.  So if you want to go to a show, you want to go have dinner, it’s a 2-block walk; it’s great.”

Or, residents can dine in Fabio's, the new Italian restaurant on the first floor of the tower.  Lieutenant Governor Hochul says having a base of regular clientele is essential for downtown to thrive.

“If I lived here I’d never cook again; I would just eat here all the time.  And that’s what’s going to happen, the spin-off, the ripple effect of people living right here where they’re going to shop and dine and recreate.  And it adds a sense of life downtown.”

Credit Scott Willis/WAER News
The first floor of the building includes the new Italian Restaurant, Fabio's. They were putting the final touches on it Thursday for this week's opening.

Business development officials say that ripple effect is spreading in other ways.  Andrew Fish is senior Vice President at Centerstate CEO

“We’re already starting to hear about a desired to see more opportunities for investment and looking even broader than the immediate downtown corridors because of all the things that are coming on line, because of the incredible opportunities still for downtown residential living and the mixed-use opportunities there.”

Fish says the state’s partnership can give projects that extra needed boost to get off the ground.  But he says that support likely won’t be as critical as more projects take flight on their own because of increasing market success.    

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.
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