III Developing Syracuse: So you want to develop a property in the city of Syracuse?

III Meeting with economic dev. specialists at City Hall.

This series tracks two Syracuse entrepreneurs Cosmo Fanizzi and Christian Van Luven through the development process of 617 West Street, on Syracuse's Near West Side.

Cosmo Fanizzi said Ben Walsh orchestrated a pre-development meeting last week with city of Syracuse economic development specialists Marge Simcuski (Empire Zone) and Kurt Roulston (Empowerment zone). Fanizzi's partner in the building, Christian Van Luven, also attended.

Fanizzi said the two specialist were like a combination CPA and lawyer, "They were very sharp, did a lot of hand holding."

They laid out general and specific information on the two zones. Fanizzi said he was surprised to hear there are 98 Empire Zones in the State of New York with only one in the city of Syracuse. He said he understands they have until June of this year, which is the deadline to stop new applications for established Empire Zones.

Whereas the Empowerment Zone is a federal plan that relates to employment in selected high poverty zones. It includes federal wage credits and work opportunity tax credits. For example there is a $2400 credit toward new hires, and a welfare to work credit, as well.

Van Luven said these zones come into play after the build out. That is when the building is operating as a business, but the applications need to be set in motion now.

The two also met with Merike Preier from the Downtown Committee who mentioned a couple of grants they might be able to apply for with downtown and the Connective Corridor. She needed to see if they could qualify.

Fanizzi and Van Luven are planning for a food service operation on the first floor and basement with residential on the second and third floors.

The next step is to file applications for both zones, and to continue the building's demolition. When the demo is complete they will move forward with an architect, which they are in the process of interviewing for right now.

To contact either Fanizzi 585-813-8366 or Van Luven -- 254-3385.

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