Oct 12, 2010 Ami Olson Uncategorized
When the 17 new luxury apartments opened Oct. 1 in the Deys Centenniel Plaza, just one had yet to be leased.
But five days later, developer Robert Doucette reported all of the first phase units were filled, and three of the 10 planned to open in December had already been spoken for.
Merike Treier, deputy director of the Downtown Committee and director of economic development, said of the 1,300 units in downtown Syracuse, the market maintains a 99 percent occupancy rate and waiting lists for properties under construction.
It’s safe to say the downtown living revolution is under way.
A moving target
By and large, the people moving downtown fit a profile: young professionals, 25- to 35-years-old, unmarried and no kids.
Kevin Valente, a leasing agent with the Sutton Companies, said he sees a lot of transplants to Syracuse choosing downtown over the outer limits of the city or the suburbs — people who have lived in downtown, metro environments in other cities and seek that atmosphere when they relocate to ‘Cuse.
Nicole Foresti, a realtor with A&F Real Estate, agreed.
“Many of the renters that have gone through A&F Real Estate have been from out of state, and are used to high prices of rent in other cities,” she said.
Treier noted that last year’s Downtown Living Tour, the fourth annual tour, showed another interesting trend in downtown residents: empty nesters.
“During our last Downtown Living Tour, we saw a significant increase in the empty nester population who was starting to consider living downtown and downsizing their home, so they came to the Tour to check out our downtown product,” Treier said.
Location, location and budget
Exposed brick, hardwood floors, wide windows and a sky-high ceiling in a historic building — what does that cost in Syracuse?
Market rent ranges from around $700 for smaller units up to $2,500, depending on size, location and the agency renters go through to find their home sweet home.
Beyond the budget, those considering a downtown migration also have to select the right neighborhood for their needs and lifestyle, and Syracuse offers quite a range.
“We like to market the different personalities of each district,” Treier said. “each has their own character which appeal to a variety of the population, depending on what you’re looking for.”
The Downtown Committee markets each neighborhood based on the available amenities, atmosphere and surrounding properties, (an abundance of churches in Columbus Circle make it a quieter area, while the vibrant nightlife in Armory Square speaks for itself).
Valente said of the three neighborhoods he offers lofts in, Franklin Square is the most popular.
“It’s more residential, but you feel like you’re downtown,” he said.
Events like the annual Downtown Living Tour can help potential renters explore neighborhoods and buildings they may be interested in; the tour is sponsored by the Downtown Committee and held in late spring.
A fresh environment
Though it’s slim pickings right now for a downtown dwelling, the stalled market is picking back up. Treier said more than 100 units throughout downtown are either under construction or building is planned to being soon, between the Pike Block, Butler and Hurbson building projects. On top of that, two more developers are in talks with the Downtown Committee and Treier said if those projects materialize it would mean about 30 more units available.
And as development and the economy gain more stable ground, the market may expand from primarily rental units to more condos for sale, a big sign of long-term strength in downtown Syracuse.
But adding available housing to the market isn’t a magic bullet to reviving downtown. As Doucette points out, access to amenities — particularly fresh foods — are critical.
Which is why the first floor of the Deys Centennial Plaza will host a fresh food market, with an opening planned for March 2011. The market will be a vendor-style set-up, and though Doucette wasn’t ready to go public with any vendors who have signed on, he said there will be some “recognizable names” as well as some start-ups in the market.
“We’re very committed to putting this market in place, because we feel that its really so essential to have it downtown,” Doucette said. “We don’t think we can continue to bring people downtown and not have a place for them to buy fresh foods.”
Treier and the Downtown Committee agree that for growth to be significant, it can’t be limited to residential.
“We are always promoting the development of housing on the upper floors of downtown buildings, as that is how we will be able to get the critical mass of residents down here to help attract the types of retail and service businesses we’d all like to see,” Treier said. “A twenty-four/seven population will further feed the revitalization of the downtown core and turn the lights back on in our beautiful historic buildings.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the one-bedroom luxury apartments opening in December in the Deys Centennial Plaza, or vendors interested in participating in the market, should contact Marianne, 422-5381.
Looking to relocate downtown? Contact the Downtown Committee for an updated housing list, 422-8284.