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Plans taking shape for major investment on Syracuse's Near Westside

The former Syracuse Developmental Center in August, 2019 when the city announced it was seizing the 47 acre property.
Scott Willis
The former Syracuse Developmental Center in August, 2019 when the city announced it was seizing the 47 acre property. The state has promised $29 million to demolish the sprawling complex.

Plans are coming together to make significant improvements to parts of Syracuse’s near west side.  Common councilors approved measures Monday aimed at revitalizing business corridors. 

Anyone who’s traveled along parts of Erie Boulevard West, West Fayette Street, and Geddes Street knows there are stretches with blighted and vacant properties. Councilors are being asked to approve the application for a $5 million grant with the Restore New York Communities Initiative. Neighborhood and Business development commissioner Eric Ennis says they have a plan ready to go.

"The state is looking for us to be able to show what is the vision, if successfully awarded and funded," Ennis said. "In some cases, we know there are several Land Bank properties that are neighborhoods issues that we want to target through strategic demolition and other means. In this case, we're submitting as much information about the project...financials, renderings, elevations all that is submitted, and the state reviews it as part of its process."

Ennis says competition for the grants is intense, so the city may receive less than its requested five million dollar maximum. The city is also taking the next step toward demolition of the former sprawling Syracuse Developmental Center near the zoo and Fowler High School. Councilors declared the city as lead agency for demolition using $29 million in state funding. Ennis says the project has attracted plenty of attention.

"We've been receiving interest from demolition contractors about this site," Ennis said. "It's a very large job, but it's a great opportunity. We want to make sure this is well advertised, well communicated. The way it's structured gives us flexibility to get the most competitive bid."

Ennis says there will likely be one general contractor and several subcontractors, including a minority, women, and black owned businesses. Part of the $29 million state allocation will be used for site preparation and infrastructure upgrades for future development. Albanese organization is already under contract for half of the 47 acre site to build multi-family housing. Ennis says there will be community outreach for what to build on the other half. Preliminary plans call for commercial development and advanced manufacturing.

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