1: If you could show a friend around Syracuse where is the first place you would take them?
If I was showing a friend around Syracuse for the first time, I would definitely head to downtown Syracuse to show them how the city is being transformed. Starting from the up and coming Inner Harbor to Sutton’s home in the beautiful and expanding Franklin Square district, I’d proceed to the shops, restaurants and The Most in the historic and thriving Armory Square district. I’d be excited to show them the rebirth happening in the heart of downtown Syracuse, such as the beautifully restored Syracuse Marriott Hotel, the Landmark Theatre, the new Salt City Market, City Center and Symphony Place to name a few. Just about any street you drive, you’ll find new apartments, condos and commercial space throughout downtown. I’d finish at Clinton Square where depending upon what time of the year it was, there would be an upcoming festival or the holiday decorations, Christmas tree and ice skating rink would be there to enjoy.
2: How have you seen Syracuse change over the years?
Having grown up in North Syracuse and living here all of my life, I remember my grandmother taking us on the bus downtown to shop at Sibley’s, ride the elevator and monorail at E. W. Edwards and eat at the lunch counter. It was fun seeing downtown all dressed up at Christmas time, with shoppers up and down the streets. I remember the Syracuse China Factory, Carrier, Allied Chemical, General Electric and so many other big manufacturers in and around Syracuse. Slowly, they began to disappear and I witnessed the decline of downtown and flight to the suburbs of offices, stores and businesses. Today, I’m witnessing not only the flight back to downtown Syracuse of businesses and people, but also the flight to the Syracuse region from all parts of the country. People are returning to the place where they grew up. Others are coming, seeking a better quality of life. Many people don’t know that our region’s population has actually grown by over 2% the last several years, reversing a 90 year population loss trend. I’m personally experiencing an increase in my commercial real estate business as a result of the growth in our area, and the Micron effect is just beginning! I too was a skeptic early on. Attending presentations, talking to colleagues and hearing about activity happening behind the scenes relative to Micron has boosted my confidence that Micron will move forward with an investment. The size remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that it will spur unprecedented growth to our area and make this an even more exciting and better place to live.
3: What is your vision for the future of Syracuse?
That’s a tough question for me. I see the new investments in facilities and infrastructure spurring investment by developers and businesses to expand housing and the services that it necessitates. They say as the real estate market goes, so goes the economy. We desperately need more housing and the demand will eventually create it. I recently read for every dollar spent on a home purchase, five cents in home related goods and services is spent. We are living in an exciting time right now. We are on the cusp of growth not seen here, perhaps ever. And it’s coming. Downtown will continue to be transformed as more businesses come back to the city. Repurposing of existing office and retail space will reshape our area I believe. Redevelopment of Great Northern Mall and Shoppingtown are prime examples. Not only will downtown continue to grow, but so will our suburban areas with both residents and businesses. I’m excited to be in the CRE field, now more than ever as we begin a new chapter in the next evolution of our region.