Night life, restaurants, and urban energy make the center of Central New York a destination to live, work, and play. It's walkable, bikable, and easy to reach from the suburbs. Historic and interesting architecture creates a sense of place. Fun fact: Dogs are the fastest growing population downtown. Now what's that tellin' ya?
When you move to downtown Syracuse, you won't be living in a cookie-cutter apartment building. The condos and apartments in the architectural gems of the city are all unique.
Brandi Gough and her husband live in The Dietz Lofts, a converted lantern factory on the western edge of downtown. They love the location and said it’s convenient because so much is within walking distance – restaurants, shopping, entertainment. “It gives you the feeling that you’re not stuck in a car all the time,” Brandi said. “You can walk. It’s more like city living, but still in Syracuse. It gives you the ability to do what you would do in New York or Philadelphia. Syracuse is growing into that feel. Residents enjoy it more because they have more things to do.”
Brandi said she and her husband like the design of the converted factory. “It’s modern, full of amenities,” she said. “The history of the building is shown throughout.” The amenities at her building and most others downtown include underground parking. She likes that downtown developers converting warehouses, factories, and office buildings have maintained buildings' histories while competing with amenities. Moving to Syracuse and downtown, Brandi has found that “everyone’s really friendly. Downtown residents have a sense of community. You make friends fast in Syracuse.”
When you work downtown, you feel connected. You can step out of your office to meet people, do business, and go to interesting places and not need a car.
Jaisen Clark lives in Dey’s Plaza building downtown. The attraction? “I like being in the heart of everything, a short walk for anything I need,” Jaisen said. He was a varsity soccer player in college. He stays active in the sport and has a part-time job coaching youngsters at CNY Family Sports Center on Jones Road near Baldwinsville. “It’s easy to get to – nothing seems far away around Syracuse,” he said.
What about entertainment and things to do? He likes walking to Wolff’s Biergarten to watch sporting events, especially soccer, on the weekends. He likes an indoor rock-climbing space in the Franklin Square neighborhood, just north of downtown. “I’m right across the street from Aspen gym," he said. "I go to Café Kubal downstairs, for breakfast or coffee on the weekends. I like the ability to walk outside and hit the grocery market, go to restaurants, and avoid having to drive. I don’t cook much, so I like to get out. A few of my favorites are Otro Cinco, The Mission, of course Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, and The Hops Spot. There’s always something new downtown, new restaurants – it’s pretty nice. It’s a quick walk to Armory Square when I want to go out on the weekends."
Jaisen is 25, and he’s noticed a diversity of downtown residents: “It’s not just younger people. A friend’s parents just moved downtown. I think it’s a draw that there’s a mix of ages." That may be because downtown has amenities for any age: The Everson Museum plaza, Columbus Circle, Hanover Square, and Clinton Square fill with music at lunch, after work, and during weekend festivals. Downtown has fountains, architecture that inspires, and easy lunchtime walks along Onondaga Creek.
“I can host my friends, have my own party, and then we go out to skate in Clinton Square. It’s fun to see Syracuse doing things like Syracuse Fashion Week that go on in big cities. Transitioning from a big city, downtown Syracuse has sort of afforded me the big city. I’ve had friends from Boston visit, and they’ve been surprised at what downtown has to offer.”
Joe Burns works in suburban Liverpool. As a 20-something who moved from Boston, he wanted the urban lifestyle of downtown. Joe chose the State Tower Building, a beautifully updated 1927 art deco icon rising 23 stories. “It would have been easy to live in Liverpool, but it was important to get that downtown life,” Joe said. “The commute is no hassle at all. It’s a 15-minute drive. It’s no hassle to get around the Syracuse area.”
He loves the wide variety in restaurants and events. For instance, he mentioned the annual tree-lighting at Clinton Square. “I can host my friends, have my own party, and then we go out to skate in Clinton Square. It’s fun to see Syracuse doing things like Syracuse Fashion Week that go on in big cities. Transitioning from a big city, downtown Syracuse has sort of afforded me the big city. I’ve had friends from Boston visit, and they’ve been surprised at what downtown has to offer.”
Joe said it’s a friendly, safe area: “There are always people walking around, and you’re never on the street alone. It feels secure.”
“Walk out your door and you’ve got a whole abundance of options and experiences. It’s a pedestrian friendly experience. Have a cup of coffee. Interact with people. Great restaurants and retail shopping. A whole lifestyle that doesn’t require you to get in your car.”
--Joe Hucko, developer, Washington Street Partners
Since Armory Square began downtown's transformation as a living and entertainment destination in the 1980s, the neighborhood has boomed with apartments, condos, restaurants, and nightlife. Merike Treier of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse said developers are adding more space all the time, converting historic buildings into unique residential spaces. "The scale of development happening now is astronomical," she said.
Joe Hucko, president of Washington Street Partners, is one of the developers. He founded his company in 1990 and said he’s never seen such levels of capital investments in downtown and around Syracuse University. “It’s off the charts,” he said. What does he see attracting so many people that brings so much investment? “The connectivity with the community,” Joe said. “Walk out your door and you’ve got a whole abundance of options and experiences. It’s a pedestrian friendly experience. Have a cup of coffee. Interact with people. Great restaurants and retail shopping. A whole lifestyle that doesn’t require you to get in your car.”
The energy of all those residential amenities has brought new employers, expanding or moving downtown to take advantage of the urban excitement and the cultural attractions. Digital companies, engineering firms, high-tech startups and entrepreneurs have joined the traditional anchors of finance, law, marketing, architecture, and service industries.
All that activity has filled Armory Square, Hanover Square, and the streets between with entertainment, good food, and late-night music.