Hotel Syracuse Renovation Could Revitalize Local Business

For a decade, a number of developers have pitched promising plans to renovate the Hotel Syracuse, only to come up short. Now, a new developer with a proven track record for buying and restoring hotels is looking to acquire the Hotel Syracuse, and a successful renovation could bring a big boom in business to downtown Syracuse.

Local officials hope the Hotel Syracuse attracts more visitors to the city

By Irfan Uraizee SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —  Take a stroll down South Warren Street, and a towering structure looms over the center of downtown. It stands as a reminder of Syracuse’s prosperous past but also of its subsequent decline.

What was once the crown jewel of the downtown area, the Hotel Syracuse has since deteriorated to such an extent that the building was closed down in 2004. For the past decade, a number of developers have pitched promising plans to renovate the Hotel Syracuse only to come up short. However, a new developer with a proven track record for buying and restoring hotels is looking to acquire the Hotel Syracuse.

With a potential renovation for the shuttered hotel with an experienced developer in sight, local businesses are hoping the project will finally bring a much needed shopping boom to downtown Syracuse.

“It’s just another one of those things showing that downtown our downtown, at least, is still a vital downtown,” said John Massara, the manager of Mr. Shop in Armory Square.


Breaking Down The Renovation Plan

The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) is working to handoff renovation of the iconic landmark to a which. At an estimated cost of $57 million this new developer plans to transform the structure into a 261-room Hyatt Hotel.

In December, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency approved an agreement under which it would use its eminent power domain to acquire the hotel from GML Syracuse LLC and then transfer it to Riley’s company, Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Co. 1. In February, Onondaga County lawmakers voted to direct $1.1 million in state grants to purchase the Hotel Syracuse.

Ben Walsh, Executive Director of the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, said the landmark has created thousands of lasting memories for the city which are important to preserve.

“They don’t build them like that anymore so there’s something to be said about the uniqueness of the building that’s something worth saving,” Walsh said.

Past efforts have focused restoring the Hotel Syracuse while also allocating an addition $15 million in state grants to build an entirely new hotel next to the Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center at the Oncenter, located just two blocks away from the Hotel Syracuse. However, the county has had difficulty finding a developer willing to build a new hotel, so they are looking to make a newly renovated Hotel Syracuse, the convention center’s official hotel.

“It really anchors that area of downtown and we think that by revitalizing the Hotel Syracuse,” Walsh said. “We can have a ripple effect.”

Walsh said the Hotel Syracuse will bring in more visitors to the city and attract higher-profile events to the county’s convention center.

“People want to be down here, people want to build down here,” Massara said. “And its going to add to the excitement of the Armory square area.”


Next Steps

Walsh said that $1.1 million in state grants will be used to purchase the Hotel Syracuse from its previous developer. According to Syracuse Community Hotel Restoration Co. 1, the project will use $17.4 million, roughly 31 percent of the project cost, in government subsidies to fund the $57 million renovation project.

$12.6 million of the cost will be subsidized through federal tax credits while the Riley’s company will fund the remaining $27 million.

According to the county legislature, $13.9 million of the $15 million in state grants will fund a new convention center hotel if Riley’s Hotel Syracuse project falls through.

Massara said the Hotel Syracuse will fill a huge void in the downtown area. (c) 2014 Irfan Uraizee

The Hotel Syracuse first opened in 1924. It has been closed since 2004. (c) 2014 Irfan Uraizee