New programs aim to improve perception of downtown

With an estimated 500 new visitors expected to pour into Syracuse every other day from April to July and funding at the ready, the time was right to kick off a new ambassador program and open the doors to the Downtown Security and Information Center at 404 S. Warren St.

The Downtown Committee unveiled the center, and its first ambassador, on March 4, offering out-of-towners and Syracuse-area residents both a storefront information center and an on-foot resource for quick answers to just about any question about downtown.

The center is a resource for Syracuse residents as much as it is for visitors, said Merike Treier, deputy director and director of economic development for the Downtown Committee of Syracuse.

"We're doing this for everybody, for the Syracuse community," Treier said, emphasizing that the resource was called "information center," not "visitor's center," for a reason.

We were pretty particular in choosing the name, she added. Same goes for the location, which is really the second home of the center, though it's a much more visual and inviting space than the center's previous location in the Dey's Brothers Building on South Salina Street.

The storefront on the Warren Street entrance of the Galleries is outfitted with racks of maps and brochures, two iPads and a wireless printer, chairs to rest tired feet and a full-time community service officer through the Syracuse Police Department.

Demystifying downtown

Treier said "demystifying downtown" and improving the way people perceive the neighborhoods is a primary goal.

"We have a lot of hotspots of activity but they're not all connected," Treier said. "Things aren't as well marked here as you might like, so having someone on the street being able to improve your experience when you come down here is going to be a lasting impression of Syracuse in your mind."

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