09.20.17

SCHUMER REVEALS: BEFORE EVEN A SINGLE HAMMER CAN GET TO WORK ON MAJOR DOWNTOWN SYRACUSE PROJECT, FEDS MUST ACT & NAIL DOWN LOCALS’ PLAN TO RESTORE SALINA STREET BUILDING’S ORIGINAL WINDOW & BRICK FACADE; SENATOR LAUNCHES PUSH TO SECURE FED SIGN OFF, AS WELL AS CRITICAL HISTORIC TAX CREDITS TO DELIVER MORE PROGRESS TO DOWNTOWN ‘CUSE

321 South Salina Street Is On National Register Of Historic Places, Which Is Good For Syracuse & Means Downtown Has More Access To Key Fed Tax Credits; But National Registry Benefit Also Means Feds Must Give Green Light To Restoration Plan

Schumer Says Plan To Restore Original 1930’s Era Facade Will Make Heads Turn Downtown & Should Get Swift Approval From Feds; Plan Will Continue The Downtown Boom Of Recent Years

Schumer To Feds: Historic Salina Street Project Is Window Of Downtown Opportunity That We Can’t Let Close   

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today joined developers of 321 South Salina Street to unveil new plans to redevelop the property in Downtown Syracuse. The building’s rehab is eligible for historic tax credits because it is part of the South Salina Downtown Corridor, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Schumer said that before the project can be awarded vital historic tax credits, the National Park Service (NPS) must decide whether the building’s original façade from the 1930’s with windows properly represents the building’s ‘period of historic significance.’ This is critical because historic preservation tax credits can only be awarded to projects that maintain a property’s ‘period of significance.’ Schumer argued that not only does the 1930’s facade maintain historic character of the building, but it is also vital to the developers’ plans for rehabilitating the property. Therefore, Schumer called on NPS to support the original facade and subsequently award historic tax credits to this important project.

“Evidence of Downtown Syracuse’s resurgence is everywhere – from the restoration Hotel Syracuse and the completion of Connective Corridor to the rapid development of Armory, Hanover and Franklin Squares. The rehab of 321 South Salina Street will be another shot in the arm to the Downtown boom.” said Senator Schumer. “But the feds must act and approve the redevelopment plans or else the window might close on this opportunity. Not only is the project unfeasible without the windows, but the original façade undoubtedly maintains the buildings historic character and represents a time when Downtown was the commercial core of the city, much like today. That is why I am calling on the feds to swiftly approve this local plan and award tax credits that will bring more progress to Downtown Syracuse.”

“Being someone from Syracuse, the revitalization Downtown has experienced over the last ten plus years has inspired me and all of my partners, into seeing a glimpse of the brighter future Syracuse has in store, and has reminded us of what kind of economic anchor the Downtown market was for Central New York as a whole during it’s prime of the early 20th century. We believe that for Syracuse to be successful in the future, we, as a community, need to create a Syracuse that people can be prideful of and are excited to visit. And we hope that through this project, we’ll be contributing to that new fabric of what the Syracuse of tomorrow, will be,” said Ryan Benz, co-developer of 321 South Salina Street.

Schumer was joined by local developers and owners of 321 South Salina Street Ryan Benz, Leigh Ann Boatman-Benz, Steve Case and Dr. Shashank Bhatt. The group unveiled plans for their project, called The Whitney Lofts that will completely renovate both 321-323 South Salina Street in Downtown’s central corridor. The scope of the work will include 16 new apartments on the upper floors and a brand new 5,500 square foot restaurant space and speakeasy on the ground floor. The apartment lobby will be along Bank Alley and will also include a separate entrance on South Salina. The total cost of the rehabilitation is $4.2M and the project team includes Dalpos Architecture and Rich & Garnder (GC).

Schumer explained that 321 South Salina Street is in the existing South Salina Street Downtown Historic District, which was added to The National Register of Historic Places in 2009, and enlarged in 2014. The South Salina corridor represented the commercial development of Syracuse’s central business core from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. Specifically, 321 South Salina Street originated as part of a group of five buildings constructed in 1855 and known as “Washington Stores,” serving various retailers and manufacturers that contributed Downtown Syracuse’s commercial core for decades. Most notably, the building housed the Park Brannock Shoe Store – where the “Brannock Device” used to measure shoe size was first invented and manufactured. The original façade was of Italianate Style containing large windows with exterior sills and brick frontage. As Downtown’s commercial district began to decline, the building’s original Italianate Style façade with brick and windows was parged over with solid concrete in the 1960s, altering its original historic character.

Since the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, its rehabilitation qualifies for a 20% income historic tax credit that is awarded by the Department of Interior (DOI), through the National Park Service. Before that credit can be awarded, the State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) and the National Park Service review the rehabilitation work to ensure that it will maintain characteristics that existed during the structure’s ‘period of significance.’ This requires the SHPO and NPS determine whether the building’s original façade from the 1930’s with windows or current façade since the 1960’s without windows represent the building’s ‘period of significance.’

Schumer argued that restoring the building’s original façade is the ideal choice, both for the purposes of the restoration plan and maintaining the structure’s historical character. First, the project plans to construct residential units on the top floors. Without windows, these units would be uninhabitable and the entire project could become unfeasible. Furthermore, the original Italianate façade represents a period when South Salina Street was the city’s commercial hub and center of economic activity, one of the main reasons why the corridor was added to the National Register. For these reasons, Schumer called on NPS to swiftly approve the developer’s plans to reestablish the original brick and window façade and subsequently award the project historic tax credits designated for structures such as these.

A copy of the letter Schumer sent to the heads of the National Park Service and the New York State Historic Preservation Office appears below:

 

Dear Acting Director Reynolds:

I write to urge the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service (NPS) to support and accept the 1930’s era façade as the ‘period of significance’ as it relates to the redevelopment of 321 South Salina Street in Downtown Syracuse, New York, and not the current façade installed in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Such approval will allow the building to continue to contribute to Downtown Syracuse’s resurgence while also maintaining its historic character.

As you know, 321 South Salina Street is in the existing South Salina Street Downtown Historic District, which was added to The National Register of Historic Places in 2009, and enlarged in 2014. The South Salina corridor represents the commercial development of Syracuse’s central business core from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. Specifically, 321 South Salina Street originated as part of a group of five buildings constructed in 1855 and known as “Washington Stores,” serving various retailers and manufacturers that contributed Downtown Syracuse’s commercial core for decades. As Downtown’s commercial district began to decline, the building’s original Italianate Style façade with brick and windows was parged over with solid concrete, altering its original historic character. When the district was expanded in 2014, the following was requested by the applicant and approved by both NYSHPO and NPS:

Several historic buildings in the South Salina Street Downtown Historic District

Have been successfully rehabilitated, with original details

that had been sheathed by unsympathetic alterations becoming visible again.

The blocks of South Salina Street and South Warren Street included

in the Downtown Syracuse Commercial Historic District include numerous

historic structures that may have suffered some loss of integrity through alteration,

but retain the potential for rehabilitation that has been experienced

by the historic fabric of the commercial core of the city.

National Register of Historic Places Enlargement Application, Sec. 8, Pg. 5

I concur that Downtown Syracuse’s historic district on South Salina Street includes “historic structures that may have suffered some loss of integrity through alteration, but retain the potential for rehabilitation,” including 321 South Salina Street. Allowing developers to utilize historic tax credits to help restore the original Italianate façade will bring the building closer to its period of historical significance and allow the building to join other structures that “have been successfully rehabilitated, with original details that had been sheathed by unsympathetic alterations becoming visible again.” I hope that this request meets your approval and that the project is swiftly awarded Historic Preservation Tax Incentives to aid in the building’s restoration.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

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