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Kinney Drugs gets OK for Eastwood

The Kinney Drugs will be built in the block between South Edwards and Midler Avenue on James Street in Eastwood. File photo from December 2011.

The Kinney Drugs will be built in the block between South Edwards and Midler Avenue on James Street in Eastwood. File photo from December 2011. Photo by Amanda Seef.

— Several buildings will be torn down in Eastwood following the city’s approval for a Kinney Drugs to be built on James Street.

The Syracuse City Planning Commission approved the new building unanimously at Tuesday’s regular meeting. Members voted 4-0 to approve the project site review, which would bring the drug store to James Street in the block between Midler and South Edwards Avenue. The existing buildings, which house a number of local businesses, will be demolished.

“They have pretty much all the approvals they need, so they’re set to go there,” said Andrew Maxwell, Syracuse’s director of planning and sustainability.

The next step for the developers is to apply for any building permits the construction may need, Maxwell said.

The approval follows a string of power struggles between the planning commission and the city council. In December, the common council passed legislation to approve a change in the city charter to give the councilors more input into decisions made by the planning commission. That move was made after frustration over the Eastwood project mounted. Mayor Stephanie Miner later vetoed the council’s decision.

Three buildings are slated to be demolished for Kinney’s move — a two-story building that houses Landmark Development, Trade in Cash Pawn Shop, Working Class Tattoo and Grooves Salon, a rental home, and the buildings of Extreme Pizza Kitchen and Fifi’s Ice Cream. The developer plans on moving all existing tenants to the other side of the street, to the old “Steak and Sundae” building on the northeast corner of James and Midler. That building, purchased by developer Tino Marcoccia, will be renovated to accommodate the businesses.

The approval of the Kinney Drugs project was unique because of the James Street overlay district, Maxwell said. The standards attached to the district help hold developers to a higher standard, he said.

“In this case, it allowed the planning commission to ask for a higher standard based on design,” Maxwell said. “This is really an example of how the planning process should work. I think we have what will be a quality plan and a good project for Eastwood.”

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