Apr 16, 2010 ellen leahy Uncategorized
So you want to develop a property in the city of Syracuse?
This series tracks two Syracuse entrepreneurs/developers Cosmo Fanizzi and Christian Van Luven through the development process of 617 West Street, on Syracuse’s Near West Side.
It might seem as if Fanizzi and Van Luven are taking their sweet time developing 617 West Street. It’s true. They are, because they were able to purchase the building for $60,000, each putting in $30,000. They don’t have a bank loan collecting interest. Instead, by investing their own capital, they can take more time up front to research ideas they hope will make operating the building cheaper and also good for the environment. As the architect Peter King (King & King) said at the Water Forum the two hosted at Van Luven’s Roji Tea Lounge, people have to step up and take a leadership role on sustainable building.
Essentially it’s a movement whose time has come.
“To be a thoughtful developer, one needs time,” Van Luven said.
“We have this space, and we understand that food and water are our essentials,” Van Luven said.
Roji Tea Lounge is a certified green restaurant. The two developers are interested in carrying this idea forward in their ground floor space at 617 West Street. Although they might not necessarily be the operators, they want to partner with like-minded tenants.
On Friday April 9, a group similar to the Water Forum held at Roji gathered to talk about an infrastructure for marketing, distributing and purchasing locally grown foods commercially in Syracuse. It was called the Syracuse Eats Stakeholder presentation, and was held at the Warehouse Gallery in Armory Square. It’s agenda called for participants to discuss their individual missions; and to determine gaps in the regional food system; plus brainstorming ideas systems that would work better for all the stakeholders.
The farm to market system is somewhat hit or miss to date. It can be quite time consuming for the operator to acquire fresh, local products. And it is difficult for the grower to distribute.
“Talking is one thing,” Van Luven said, “implementing is another.”
Van Luven noted that even in this poor economy the demand for locally grown and organic foods has continued to rise. Consider that fresher food is more expensive presently because of supply and demand. But in reality, the consumer can actually be consuming less when eating fresh foods.
For example, it’s pretty easy to eat a bag of Cheetoes and perhaps not be satiated, whereas one apple can do the trick.
Van Luven is being realistic about four seasons as well. Fresh food just isn’t in as plentiful a supply year round. Here he takes inspiration from his grandparents whose cellar was a food pantry of fresh foods they preserved themselves. Could smaller manufacturers concentrate on preserving local food in a similar way?
Including a build out and green elements
These future landlords are thinking perhaps there is an operator out there who wants to do this, but would rather not put energy into setting up the physical plant. For example, Strong Hearts Caf (c) — Syracuse’s first official Vegan Restaurant — moved into a space that was set up for a food operation. It just moved in.
West Street’s #617 already has a lot of the infrastructure in place for a food operation including a grease trap, a set up for an exhaust system, appropriate flooring and a fire alarm system. That’s why they are focusing on the first floor before heading up to the apartments on the second floor.
“If the first floor hadn’t had all these features, we would have started up on the second floor first,” Van Luven said.
There is a point where the building needs to start bringing in money. But for now, research and design are the focus.
Next week, I’ll report on the design of 617 West’s tomato sandwich garden.