For the past couple of years, Liverpool businessman John Gormel and his family have been brainstorming a major new development on the Basin Block.
No, it’s not another restaurant-and-tavern.
Gormel — the man with the mile-wide smile — already owns two of the most popular easting-and-drinking spots in the village: The Retreat and The Cobblestone. His family also owns the Barking Gull which has done business intermittently since 2014, but it’s located on the Basin Block at the corner of South Willow a Street and Lake Drive.
A century ago, that large, trapezoid-shaped block bounded by First Street, South Willow Street and Lake Drive, was the site of an old Oswego Canal side-cut basin.
Gormel, his wife, Linda, and sons, Adam and Josh, hope to build a 42-unit apartment complex along Lake Drive, replacing several residential properties which they now own there.
The artist renderings are spectacular.
As proposed, the 42 apartments would be housed in three buildings on Lake Drive facing the Salt Museum. Parking would be behind the buildings in the middle of the Basin Block.
The three-story structures have been designed by Fayetteville architect Salem Richard Lahood. His conception is inspired by the so-called “Florida style” derived from historic features of central and south Florida building traditions such as pastel colors, porches, balconies and multi-pitched roof lines. Very classy-looking!
John Gormel knows how to play Monopoly with village property better than anybody. And now seems like the right time to start putting up hotels — er, apartment buildings — on some of those prime parcels.
Five long years ago, Gormel and/or a member of his family attended almost every village board and planning board meeting at which proposed Basin Block improvements were discussed. At the time, two other major players were on the scene — Val Lamont’s Liverpool Properties LLC and Jay Bernhardt’s JGB Properties. Since then, Lamont died and JGB has apparently dropped its mixed-used plans for lower First and South Willow streets. In fact, JGB’s Basin Block property is now listed for sale.
Meanwhile, as he moved his Top Hat around the local Monopoly board, Gormel resolutely acquired the properties he needed to make this bold Basin Block move. In the fall of 2017, he purchased two strips of village-owned land, small parcels abutting the Barking Gull, at 116 S. Willow.
Last spring, his family bought the property at 110 S. Willow St., next door to the Barking Gull. The 110 address is where the White Water Pub had operated since 2009.
Earlier this year, Adam Gormel met with Liverpool Mayor Gary White and Planning Board Chairman Joe Ostuni Jr., to discuss preliminary Basin Block plans. The Gormels are expected to officially present their ambitious Lake Drive site plans for review to the village planning board sometime sooner than later in the new year.
While the Gormels hope to establish a 42-unit apartment complex on the edge of the village business district, Syracuse developer Cosimo Zavaglia is moving ahead on pre-construction work at the 108-unit Meyer Manor site at 1225 Tulip St., just north of the Thruway.
Over the next several weeks, an estimated one thousand dump trucks will deliver 16,000 cubic yards of cleanfill to level the landscape on the 7-plus-acre property. Trees will also have to be removed from the vacant lot where Zavaglia will build four 27-unit apartment buildings. The Village Planning Board approved Zavaglia’s site plan on May 29.
Speaking of real estate, a new firm called Rooftop Realty is making rooftops a reality for hopeful homeowners. The firm recently opened offices in the village at 201 Second St., at the corner of Vine.
Owned by three lifelong residents of Liverpool, Rooftop Realty networks with buyers and sellers on a daily basis.
“We do everything we can to make every transaction as simple and seamless as possible,” says realtor Mark Cardone, who runs the firm along with his wife, Joyce, and brother-in-law, Fred Brough.
Baldwinsville-based salesperson Shelley Hoffman completes the Rooftop team. Contact them at 315-569-8250 or visit rooftoprealtygroup.com.
BTW, Fred Brough, who’s retired from the Syracuse Police Department, continues to work part-time as a Liverpool Police officer.
“It’s not just about real estate. It’s about community.”
—Mark Cardone, Rooftop Realty