City Planning Commission Rejects Request to Demolish Eastwood Building

Nov 28, 2017

The outside of the vacant Eastwood building next to The Palace
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Community reservations and questions about city permits appears to have temporarily stopped the demolition of a building on James Street in Eastwood. A businessman envisions a future of the building located next door to him.

Stephen Skinner owns the Palace Theater and several properties with street-level businesses. He believes community turn-out at a Syracuse Planning Commission meeting on Monday night resulted in its decision to reject a permit to knock down a vacant building next to the Palace.

"And to see one person after another just say 'you know what more information is needed let's first work on having something stand instead of tearing something down,' it is everything you want in a village and so it was a  very proud day for the people in Eastwood." 

Skinner likes to find new life for properties. At age 19, when his father thought it was time to close a bookstore in the late 90’s with mounting debt, he stepped-up. 

"I really believed that the stores were saving, even though everyone said it wasn't, and it was this start of this journey of being resilient, we did fill the plaza up." 

Stephen Skinner standing inside The Palace
Credit John Smith/WAER News

The Eastwood Plaza and the Sacred Melody Bookstore is now thriving. He estimates his company has helped to incubate 40 shops ranging from retail, restaurants and offices. He recently opened an eating spot known as Palace Commons. Skinner thinks the building next to the Palace could serve as extra space for theater dressing rooms, perhaps a youth center or additional eating options.

"With good food can come very tasteful retail boutique shops, they'd be specialty shops that have a niche market. Other things that come to mind could be loft apartments, or a possible office firm, maybe in the upstairs area." 

Skinner hopes the bank which owns the building will come to the table and speak with the community.  He’s uncertain if he wants the property, but feels it 

The Palace Commons cafe
Credit John Smith/WAER News

could still be useful to the Eastwood Community.