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Common Council OKs sale of former Syracuse Developmental Center parcel

Scott Willis
Deteriorating buildings sprawl across the 47-acre site. The city has been maintaining and securing the site since seizing it in 2019, when this photo was taken.

UPDATE 5:20 PM: After earlier hesitation on the proposal, Councilor Pat Hogan pushed forward an agreement on a plan to inject new life into the long-vacant former Syracuse developmental site on the city's Westside.

Common councilors Monday unanimously approved the sale of part of the 47-acre property to a developer for a housing project. Councilor Pat Hogan says progress was made over the weekend on fine tuning the agreement.

"I look forward to creating a whole new neighborhood for the city up there at the Syracuse Developmental Center."

The agreement was a long time coming. Hogan held the item for several weeks until he was satisfied with the mix of housing units and council involvement in future decisions. The state has committed nearly 30 million dollars to demolish the deteriorating buildings and install some infrastructure. Deputy Commissioner of neighborhood development Eric Ennis says they will seek competitive bids.

"Our anticipation is that $29 million will allow us to cover the demolition, and then some to be able to cover the infrastructure. The development part of this contract, there are pieces of the infrastructure, especially leading up to the finished product, will be incumbent on the developer to finish that."

Ennis says a site master plan will examine public transportation access, proximity to supermarkets, as well as the larger impact on the South Geddes Street corridor.


Another meeting of the Syracuse Common Council will likely come and go Monday without an agreement to sell part of the former Syracuse Developmental Center site for a housing development. Councilor Pat Hogan continues to hold the item from a vote, which first appeared on the agenda in early July. Hogan also chairs the Onondaga County industrial Development Agency, which has been trying to lure a semiconductor manufacturer to White Pine in Clay. He says that could have an impact on what happens in the city.

"As we all are aware in this room, that there might be a major announcement coming pretty soon that could drastically affect the housing in Central New York. I don't want to be backed in to this proposal. Although when I did talk to the developer, he seemed willing to be very flexible."

Hogan says he also wants more specifics, but not before the council and community offer their input. Deputy Commissioner of Business Development Eric Ennis says they’ve addressed those concerns in the modified legislation.

"The agreement that's before you right now, is that the council would be able to weigh in and have direct feedback to be able to approve or deny the master developer plan that would ultimately be brought through us, through this proposal. Now, one of the things too, is that we are requiring in the agreement that community feedback and outreach and direct community engagement take place before there's a proposal for the project site as well community."

Councilor Latoya Allen says she’s willing to support the agreement as long as everyone is included.

"The council, the community, Tipp Hill, west side, near west side, Skunk City, everybody being a part of the actual plan to design what it's going to look like. So if what you're saying, we're going be a part of the plan, then I'm with that. But I don't want them to just give us something."

City officials agree that will not be the case. Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens says the state wants to see that the city is ready to move forward. Governor Hochul has committed $20 million to demolish the sprawling, dilapidated buildings that occupy the 47-acre site between Tipperary Hill and the Near West Side.

"What we want to do is at least be able to demonstrate that we're pursuing that plan, which I think now after the conversations with neighbors, after conversations with many of you, will be more of a community engagement process. That's instead of what we have now, just giving us a plan that we said, 'no, we don't wanna go with that.'"

Preliminary plans from the developer call for a minimum of 300 units, including market, workforce, and affordable housing over three phases.

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