Developer Proposes $150 Million Project at OnCenter Parking Lot in Downtown Syracuse

Jan 31, 2017

The OnCenter parking lot in Downtown Syracuse could become the site of a $150 million development with an 8 story office building plus 2 additional towers.  The Pemco Group is thinking that one tower would be reserved for offices, and student housing in the other tower.

A view of the OnCenter Parking lot on Monday taken in front of the OnCenter's entrance on South State Street.
Credit John Smith/WAERNews

That would mean 250 apartment units and room for 500 to 700 hundred employees.  Onondaga County owns the lot and the developer is willing to pay $2.5 million for the property.  Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon thinks the project would bring a section of Downtown Syracuse to life.

“Creating a convention center district has been a goal of mine at the Legislature ever since we came down here.  We made progress with the Hotel Syracuse and improvements at the OnCenter and the rest of the county facilities, but this would give us the density we need that would really help support our facilities downtown here and support the arts and cultural district, too with the Everson (museum) and other arts organizations in the nearby area.”

McMahon feels the project would create a tremendous amount of synergy with the convention center corridor.  Pemco Groups’ Chris Montante says the development proposed is about 450,000 square feet.

“There’s going to be an office tower and there’s going to be a housing tower and they’ll also be 1,100 car parking incorporated into the structure and below the structure.  There will be retail elements including restaurants, perhaps a grab and go grocery, coffee shop.  We’ve been talking about some other creative ideas for a market environment.”

(L) Pemco's Chris Montante and Onondaga County Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon (R) speak to the Legislature's Ways and Means Committee.
Credit John Smith/WAERNews

Some county lawmakers during Monday’s County Legislature Ways and Means committee expressed they would like public parking options at the site for nearby OnCenter events, if possible.  They also asked for some additional time to review the proposal.  The County paid about $3.4 million for the parking lot.  Even though it would be sold for nearly $1 million less, McMahon feels it’s the right deal long-term.

“Getting the money back for the lot would pay for 25 years’ worth of parking and revenue loss and not even including the other property taxes that we receive and other sales tax.  So, that shouldn’t really weigh into the decision.”

The proposed site is located at the corner of South State and Harrison Streets across from the OnCenter.  You may recall the county originally wanted to build a convention center hotel there but the deal fell through.  Pending the approval of the project by county lawmakers, developers think they could begin building by 2019.  Capstone Collegiate Communities would collaborate with Pemco on the student housing portion of the project.


A panoramic shot of the OnCenter Parking lot. The Everson Museum is on the far left and the OnCenter parking garage is on the right.