Will village of Manlius become hive of commerce?

John Palmer said he's always wondered why there's not much development in the Manlius area. A resident himself, he once tried to persuade a friend to move his business there but his friend rejected the idea, claiming "there's nothing there."

"There's obviously money in Manlius, but we're not spending it in Manlius," Palmer said. "We're going to Fayetteville, we're going to Syracuse."

Soon, however, things may change. With the recent commercial proposal announced to the public less than three weeks ago, Manlius could see the beginnings of a facelift as early as next year.

CBD Development, a commercial real estate company based in East Syracuse, describes VillageWalk Manlius as a 75,000 square-foot mixed use project that will consist of a bank, pharmacy, retail, restaurant, medical and office uses. And the best part is the project will be consistent with the pedestrian-friendly nature the village wants to create.

"The VillageWalk project is a very exciting opportunity for the village of Manlius," said Village Board Trustee Eric Krouse, also the planning board liaison. "I know the planning board is equally excited about it and am sure they will be supportive as the plans evolve."

Going forward, the development team will need planning board approval as well as state DOT approval for modifications to the site access. Additionally, the team is requesting help from National Grid to bury utility poles and lines in front of the proposed project along Fayette Street.

"This is a critical element from our perspective both from a functional and aesthetic point of view," said CBD President Michael Dougherty, one of four local developers involved with this project. The others include Chuck Sangster, Courtney Wilson and Mike Assimon -- all east side residents.

Civil engineering firm Environmental Design and Research, which is well versed in civic planning and works with municipalities across the northeast, has authored the design guidelines for the village, Dougherty said, adding EDR is no stranger to CBD.

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