FOCUS Greater Syracuse is highlighting 20 communitywide achievements to mark its 20th year. They offer a glimpse of how far we have come since the 1998 community vision sessions set 87 goals. They show what can be done and has been done, not necessarily by FOCUS, but by Forging Our Community’s United Strength.
At the time of the first visioning sessions downtown was building steam. One of the priorities set was to make downtown viable.
In 1999 Armory Square was busy enough with locals and visitors that the city had put a hold on increasing the number of bars. The AIACNY Urban Design Center proposed a demonstration project to include a Downtown site. Within five years Syracuse University’s development of the Nancy Cantor Warehouse as a temporary home for the School of Architecture was accompanied by increased construction of apartments downtown. SU’s Connective Corridor initiative followed to make transportation easy from campus to Armory Square.
The O’Brien & Gere engineering firm relocated its headquarters from the suburbs to downtown and other major employers joined in, including gaming company TGC Player and Terekete.
A wave of hotel construction and renovation downtown began in 2001 with the opening of the renewed Jefferson Clinton Hotel in Armory Square and most recently in 2017 with the opening of the award-winning renovation of the historic Hotel Syracuse into the Marriott Syracuse Downtown. The Allyn Foundation recently announced construction plans for a mixed-use commercial and residential structure in the Salina Street parking lot on the corner across from the hotel, enlivening that end of the downtown corridor.
This year the city’s tallest building the State Tower Building is a restored Art Deco jewel. With 61 new apartments it was the starting point for the nine stops on the 12th annual Downtown Living Tour.
Weekend and weeknight activities keep the city center hopping. Artsweek ran 10 days this year from July 19 to 29 for several festivals—the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival, Stage of Nations Ecofest, New Times Street Painting Festival, and the Americu Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival.
The Downtown Committee keeps tabs on all things going on in Tract 32.