Good news for Central New York: This story comes to us from Post-Standard reporter Charles McChesney:
Perhaps the clearest view of Central New York’s future comes not by looking left or right, but by looking up.
In Syracuse, the horizon is broken by lines of cranes. There are buildings going up and old buildings being rebuilt in a way that doesn’t simply update them, but rethinks their purposes.
Consider the Pike Block, a $25 million project combining four downtown buildings into a facility that will be home to 78 apartments, two restaurants and four stores.
“This had to happen,” said David C. Nutting, CEO and chairman of VIP Structures Inc., the company developing what had been four run-down properties where South Salina meets Fayette Street.
On a damp winter day, Nutting leads a visitor through the gutted remains of the former Witherill Building, the Chamberlin Building, the Wilson Building and the Bond Building. A new central corridor and elevators will connect all four, creating what Nutting said will be “a community more than an apartment building.”
Two courtyards — one for residents and one for people visiting retailers or restaurants — will link trendy Armory Square to the Pike Block and from there to South Salina Street, the city’s traditional commercial center.
Decades of damage can be seen on the parts of the buildings that remain. Smoke stains from a long-ago fire scar one wall, signs of water rot mark a ceiling. Whole sections of the buildings have been cut away and reframed with modern materials.
“It’s been an interesting project,” Nutting said. “It’s three-to-one the most complex project we’ve ever done.”
Half smiling, he added: “Had we known what we would ultimately find out, it’s questionable whether we would have gone on with this.”
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