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  • Writer's pictureStaff Reporter

City of Syracuse is Growing and Returns as Region's “Center of Growth”

Syracuse mayor Ben Walsh

Syracuse mayor Ben Walsh opined that the state of the city is growing and returning as the region’s center of growth during his recent address to the greater Syracuse community.

In Walsh’s seventh State of the City speech, he specifically said, “Syracuse is growing in ways that are generating energy, confidence and hope for the future. Growing in ways that are creating opportunity for those who have previously been left behind.

Growing in ways that a vibrant and successful region must have at its center,” Walsh said. “City government didn’t do this alone. The people of this community contributed to our progress.”  

The speech was delivered at the newly revitalized City Center in downtown Syracuse on Jan. 18, 2024.  City Center is a significant site for Walsh, as it is the place where he introduced ‘Syracuse Surge’ – the strategy that’s said to have helped drive a local and regional economic resurgence.

Walsh announced several new local municipal programs and initiatives, including the following:  

Free Public Wi-Fi – Syracuse’s largest and most active city parks will be equipped with free public Wi-Fi. The addition builds on Wi-Fi access currently available at five city community centers in the city and at City Hall and One Park Place. 

Veterans Programs – Syracuse will become a Purple Heart City to honor all those who served in combat. It will start a Hometown Heroes program so families can post banners in the city honoring loved ones who are veterans or on active duty. He said the city would also advance the Minority Veterans and Service Members Memorial at Kirk Park, which will celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of minority veterans and service members in Syracuse.  

Westside Trail – Syracuse will begin planning and design for a new Westside Trail traveling through Lipe Art Park, over the railroad bridges at Geddes Street, and up to Tipp Hill. Early plans include greenway treatments to the Near Westside neighborhood and to the West Street crosswalk that connects to the Creekwalk. 

Community Grid Vision Plan – Syracuse will introduce the Community Grid Vision Plan next month. The plan, developed with input from community stakeholders, examines how the city can enhance the street network today and how city neighborhoods can evolve in the future. Walsh said the “north star” of the vision plan is people and puts the highest priority on pedestrians, bicycles, affordable housing, safe intersections and sidewalks. 

Walsh unveiled two new proposals for large scale housing projects that he said the Community Grid project and ReZone Syracuse, the city’s new zoning code, are helping make possible: 

High Rise Apartment Building - Preparing for the removal of the Interstate 81 viaduct on Almond Street, a Syracuse developer with a track record of success in the East Genesee Street corridor is proposing to build a 14-story high-rise apartment building on Almond Street at the corner of East Fayette Street. The project would add 300 mixed income housing units with commercial space on the first floor. 

Lifestyle Planned Community - In anticipation of Micron’s investment in the region, a new developer to Syracuse is proposing to build a lifestyle planned community at the dormant and overgrown former Lafayette Country Club at the southeast end of the city. The first phase of the project, 270 units of single-family homes and duplex style townhomes, would be built in the city. 

“I don’t believe any Common Council and Administration have made more progress to improve housing conditions than we have in the past six years. During that time, the number of vacant properties citywide has decreased by 33%, from 1,650 down to just over 1,000. Unfortunately, it’s still not nearly enough,” Walsh said. 

Walsh also introduced a new “Housing Promise,” a pledge to have an additional 2,500 units of housing completed or underway in Syracuse before he leaves office in 2025.

The Mayor reported on progress and next steps in affordable new home construction under his Resurgent Neighborhoods Initiative and provided updates on major large affordable and mixed income housing projects including the East Adams Neighborhood Transformation on the south side, Eastwood Heights in Eastwood, the old Syracuse Developmental Center site on the west side, and the former Maria Regina campus on the north side.  

Despite progress occurring, Walsh’s address emphasized more must be done to assist people in the community who continue to need support and assistance. 

“Most critical is the scourge of poverty that afflicts too many children, families and individuals in our city,” Walsh said. “Virtually all our efforts are strategically aligned to create opportunity and lift people up.” 


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