Work has begun on a nearly half billion dollar project to transform Syracuse's Inner Harbor. The City of Syracuse had cleared the way for work by COR Development. YNN's Bill Carey says there is new hope that Washington might be ready to help in covering some key costs for that plan.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Officials of COR Development have become very good at telling their story. A plan to turn Syracuse's Inner Harbor area into a thriving area with residential and commercial development, along with some public spaces and even space for college courses from OCC. And it's a story that people hoping to see an economic turnaround like hearing.
“You can really see how this project is going to not only transform what our citizens have available to us, but enormous economic opportunity. A lot of jobs will be created,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said.
“It is an incredibly rare opportunity that we in the City of Syracuse have to, indeed, take underdeveloped waterfront property and build an entire, new neighborhood,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said.
There has never been much doubt that there is potential for development along the waterfront. The big hurdle for developers has been the question of clean up costs.
After years of industrial activity, the Inner Harbor is considered a brownfield site, where low level waste has to be removed before new development can take place. That work can often add millions to the price tag of a project, meaning it often eliminates any economic incentive for the project to move forward.
New York's junior U.S. Senator says she has a plan to change that.
Gillibrand said, “It's called the Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act.”
Gillibrand says she wants the government to set aside $220 million a year to aid in clean up of sites, like the Inner Harbor, where plans are in place that could boost a local economy.
“What we've seen is that when you do invest in brownfield sites, you have enormous return on that investment,” Gillibrand said. “It has great economic return. It's shown to be a strong economic engine. And what we also find is that when you do development along waterfronts, it almost has an exponential benefit.”
It has been years for the city waiting to see something happen at the Inner Harbor. Officials say a turnaround is close.
But Gillibrand says the federal help may have to wait. At least until after this year's elections, when she's hoping partisan bickering will subside and lawmakers might be receptive to discussing what she says is a "good plan."
The Inner Harbor project will involve multiple phases.
Work is now underway on housing along the Onondaga Creek Walk.
The total project is expected to take several years to complete