By Colleen Callander SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — The Near Westside Initiative is close to completing its latest project to draw people to the community. The non-profit organization has built 12 apartments in the abandoned CASE Supply Warehouse on Marcellus Street in Syracuse’s Near Westside. The new housing is one of the last steps in finishing the renovations to the space, which is also home to ProLiteracy and WCNY.
“We want to provide better quality housing and draw people into our neighborhood,” Maarten Jacobs, NWSI Director, said.
The Near Westside has some of the oldest housing stock in the city. In addition to a large number of vacant houses and commercial spaces, the neighborhood is also home to a large Latino population and people who live below the poverty line. The CASE building renovations is one of the ways the NWSI has contributed to revamping the community.
“Folks have been so excited to see life come back to their neighborhood, and to see people wanting to live in a neighborhood that previously might’ve been perceived as dangerous or not a place desirable to move,” Jacobs said.
According to Jacobs, one of the long-term goals for this project is to make the Near Westside more active and inclusive. The organization wants people to live, work, and recreate in the community to make it more lively.
“Neighborhoods are considered successful when the lights don’t go off at 5 o’clock,” Jacobs said.
A handful of people have already signed for the CASE apartments, including a recent SU graduate, two SU faculty members, and a sub-contractor who fell in love with the space while helping renovate it.
Michelle Sczpanski, the recent SU graduate, worked for the NWSI when she was a student, and was offered a job working for the City of Syracuse after graduation. She knew about the plans for the new apartments in the CASE building and wanted to live there.
“Being involved in the community is really important for them and having residents that care about what’s going on. That’s really important to me also,” Sczpanski said.
The apartments range from studio to three-bedroom, and hope to draw a wide variety of tenants from students to couples and everybody in between, Jacobs said. The price is less than those in Armory Square and perfect for middle-income earners, he added.