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Downtown Agenda

The Citizens’ Agenda for Downtown Syracuse was developed with the input of thousands of citizens who participated in the CNYSpeaks process, which included forums, blogs, surveys and research projects.

CNYSpeaks is now working to introduce the forum to policy makers and push for its implementation. You can help by endorsing the agenda.

The agenda has recommendations in four categories: Economic Development (below); Parking & Transportation; Crime & Safety; and Arts & Aesthetics.

Economic Development

Ultimate Goal: Transform the city’s reputation as a place where it is difficult to do business into one that actively facilitates and attracts business.

A vibrant city center dense with people and businesses — that’s what will keep and attract young people and skilled workers, help curb sprawl and bolster our regional identity and pride.

At every step of the process, CNYSpeaks participants have been unified and passionate in their desire for Syracuse’s vacant store fronts to be filled with independently owned business. They also want nationally recognized anchor retail tenants to set up shop Downtown. They want the 300 block of Salina to bustle with people and business. They want empty office space converted to apartments or filled with businesses that pay well. They want a bookstore, a full-fledged supermarket and a first-run movie theater. They also spoke clearly about how to get there: Set aside turf-driven divisions and have all levels of government work together to attract, retain and grow business Downtown.

Action Steps:

• Streamline the economic development process. Cut red tape. Lay out clear steps for approvals and incentives. Help developers overcome obstacles. Be welcoming.

• Unify all the various economic development efforts. The incoming mayor should lead an effort to make Downtown the center of a coordinated economic development policy that benefits everyone in the region. Entities that work to bring new businesses to Central New York, whether through cooperation or consolidation, must speak with a clear, compelling, unified voice. Marketing efforts should be coordinated and enhanced. Every business owner and citizen should know exactly whom to call to pitch a project or seek assistance.

• Push incentives. Expand the residential improvement tax credit to include improvements to business and retail space. Work with real estate agents, economic development officials and developers to relentlessly promote all the various incentives available for doing business Downtown.

• Inventory and study vacant buildings. Who owns them? What effort have the owners made to sell or lease them? How much government money would it take to bridge the gap and make restorations viable?

• Study a vacant building tax and consider instituting it. The tax could help pay for incentives to business owners
looking to make improvements to their buildings, or to lure retailers and businesses Downtown. It may also spur landlords with little interest in developing their properties to sell to landlords who want to bring business Downtown.


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