October 11, 2023 saw the official grand opening of the City Center Building in downtown Syracuse, New York. The historic location, originally home to Keith’s Theatre in 1920 followed by Sibley’s Department Store, has now been transformed into a $40 million, mixed-use facility that serves as a focal point for efforts to revitalize the downtown area.
The renovation of the City Center Building follows several major investments to revitalize Syracuse’s central commercial district, building on priorities set by Governor Kathy Hochul and the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council.
Those efforts include the revitalization of the historic Hotel Syracuse, now known as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown; the expansion of The Tech Garden, which is helping forward-thinking entrepreneurs to grow their ideas; the creation of the Salt City Market; the renovation of the former Excellus building into the Icon Tower multi-use facility; the redevelopment of the former Post-Standard building; and the establishment of JMA Wireless’s global headquarters on Cortland Avenue among other projects.
City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, “The redevelopment of City Center breathes new life into the former Sibley’s building, a key project in the resurgence of downtown. The mixed-use facility will bring jobs, entertainment and business opportunities and contribute to economic growth in our region. I commend Hayner Hoyt on its bold and creative approach and thank Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for continued investments in Syracuse.”
Upgrades to the former department store build on the current transformation underway in downtown Syracuse, made possible thanks to significant state funding including investments by the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and capital funding, tax incentives, and other benefits provided by Empire State Development.
New York State, through Empire State Development, is providing a total of up to $4.1 million to support this project.
“The new City Center Building marks the start of a new, exciting, and prosperous chapter in downtown Syracuse,” Governor Hochul said.
“By investing in vibrant community anchors like City Center, welcoming new businesses to the area, and leveraging our local partnerships, my administration is committed to revitalizing community districts in Central New York and all across our state,” she added.
The four-story facility includes 240,000 square-feet of commercial space and an attached 750-car parking garage.
Among the companies operational at the new facility are project developer and construction manager The Hayner Hoyt Corporation; all-domain defense and technologies partner Huntington Ingalls Industries; green IT company CXtec/TERACAI; and Tompkins Community Bank. The renowned Redhouse Arts Center, a partial building owner, is also on-site.
Additionally, in 2021, the city of Syracuse was named as a round five, $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative winner. That effort serves as a cornerstone of the state’s economic development policy, meant to transform downtown neighborhoods into vibrant centers of activity that offer a high quality of life and attract redevelopment, businesses, jobs, and economic and housing diversity.
State and local leaders praised the project:
Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “City Center is one of many transformational projects that are bringing new life to storied buildings in the heart of Syracuse. Through the support of DRI and other targeted investments, we are helping to create a more vibrant and connected downtown, and a brighter future for this incredible region.”
The Hayner Hoyt Corporation President Jeremy Thurston said, “We are honored to be part of the redevelopment of City Center with our partners at the Redhouse Arts Center transforming a vacant city block into a vibrant part of the Downtown Syracuse community. This project would not have been possible without the support and investment from Empire State Development.”
State Senator Rachel May said, “Syracuse and Central New York continue to grow, and I’m thrilled to see the latest addition to our vibrant downtown, the City Center building. This new hub for business, theater, and retail will help continue the area’s resurgence by creating more jobs, dining, entertainment, and shopping. Thank you to Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for your work on this project and continued support of Central New York.”
Assemblymember William B. Magnarelli said, “The opening of the City Center building is another marker in the continued revitalization of Downtown Syracuse. This development will have a significant economic impact while ensuring that Syracuse’s downtown remains a vibrant location for Central New York businesses.”
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said, “Transformational projects like City Center are catalyzing the redevelopment of vacant properties, continuing the ongoing renaissance happening in downtown Syracuse. Projects like this one also serve to boost the local economy, creating a positive outlook for residents, visitors and businesses. These types of investments are not only transforming Syracuse but are adding to the overall vitality of the entire region.”
This Syracuse announcement complements Central New York Rising (CNY Rising), the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy.
Featured photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Hochul.