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Demolition to begin soon at former Syracuse Developmental Center

The front of a large, vacant tan brick building with broken windows, overgrown grass, weeds, and trees.
Scott Willis
This is a view of the former Syracuse Developmental Center before the city seized the property for back taxes in August 2019.

Demolition of the former Syracuse Developmental Center on the city’s near west side is set to begin early next month. That’s what city officials told common councilors at Wednesday’s study session The state is covering the $29 million cost to tear down the massive complex of buildings, which is expected to generate plenty of noise and truck traffic. Deputy Commissioner with Neighborhood and Business development Eric Ennis says they’re trying to keep residents informed.

“We've been able to speak at several of the Neighborhood Association meetings ahead of the demolition work," Ennnis said. "And then we've also been sharing the information with some of those community leaders to make sure they're anticipating what to expect during the demolition process. The zoo we've notified as well with their proximity to the site. And then the other thing is that you're working with the demolition contractor. We've had conversations about ways to mitigate anything from noise and just disruption to the overall neighborhood.”

Council President Helen Hudson asked Ennis to look into taking extra steps to notify the majority of residents who don’t attend neighborhood meetings. Once demolition is finished, the city is planning mixed use development on a portion of the 47-acre site. Councilor Pat Hogan hinted plans might need to change based on new information.
“I think we're going to be somewhat flexible in what we plan up there," Hogan said. President Hudson I serve on the housing task force and there's going there going to be a report will be coming out about that and that's going to affect the whole city generally and housing generally.”

Meanwhile, councilors are expected to vote Monday to borrow $325,000 for design work on the site, including roads, utilities, lighting, sidewalks, bike paths, and landscaping.

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