Matt Driscoll's last word on the Destiny project as mayor focuses on its relation to city taxpayers. "To raise that kind of money," he characterizes the deal his team made with developer Robert Congel, "you'd have to raise everybody's property taxes 9 percent. We've been able not to raise property taxes for three or four years. I've been able to invest. I've got a half a million dollars going into Kennedy Street, half a million in the St. Joe's area."
"The city of Syracuse taxpayers," he emphasizes, "don't have one dime into that project. Congel said, 'I want to build a new something on my parking lot.' We said, "OK. If you build that something, you've got to pay.' That's where the $60 million came from."
With all the projects on the drawing boards, should we be anticipating an explosion of residential and other development downtown?
There has been an explosion, but people haven't seen it, and here's why. All of the build out that has been going on in our downtown, has been in the old buildings. Many of them have been resurrected. They have been converted into loft and apartment market rate projects. So when people walk by, they didn't see a crane on the outside. We've built 476 new units of housing downtown. They're all filled, 720 totally when you add in the Lakefront and University Hill.
Urban Outfitters just didn't fall out of the sky and say, "We want to end up in Armory Square." They had been talking and looking in this area for a couple of years. They've seen the tremendous growth of downtown housing. Part of their business model is apartment furnishings. Most people think they're all about the ripped jeans and T-shirts. They see the icing on the cake now: 300 new young professionals making good money working every day in downtown Syracuse.