Smart Regrowth: Resilient Corners for Neighborhood Revitalization

Project Synopsis

The proposed project accelerates the revitalization of a distressed Upstate urban neighborhood through focused investments to multiple underutilized and vacant properties at the intersection of Ontario and Otisco Streets into “Resilient Corners” that showcase innovations in energy efficiency and best practices in smart growth design.

As envisioned in the neighborhoods Gold-rated Stage 1 LEED-ND plan, this project implements changes in land use that will convert an underutilized parking lot, a vacant building, and multiple vacant parcels on three corners into a mixed-use development that includes ten residential units, two commercial units and a community resource center and Laundromat. The project features include eight LEED single family homes, a Community Resource Center and Laundromat and a Centralized Geothermal Loop that uses a ground-source thermal exchange and a substantial rehabilitation that will feature a high performance heat pump.

 

The project contributes to multiple goals of the Central New York regional sustainability plan, including reducing per capita energy consumption, increasing the number of Energy Star residential buildings, reducing per capita greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing per capita land use. Just as important, the project site is located in a potential environmental justice area within a community that is supported by a coalition of community residents and stakeholders that actively engages its minority and low income populations in the public participation process.

Project Background

Smart Regrowth: Resilient Corners for Neighborhood Revitalization is a proposed Sustainability Project that will demonstrate immediate and long-lasting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through the redevelopment of underutilized and vacant properties of three street corners in the SALT District at the intersection of Otisco and Ontario Streets. This project adds yet another layer of sustainability work complementing and further enhancing the efforts already undertaken. The project consists of:

  • Northeast Corner:

Conversion of an underutilized parking lot to mixed uses includes six LEED certified single family homes and neighborhood community center and Laundromat. In addition this will be the site of the Geothermal heating district which initially will primarily be used to heat the homes and Laundromat but it will also have the potential to service the residential/commercial units surrounding the site.

  • Southeast Corner (625 Otisco Street):

The rehabilitation of a vacant, underutilized commercial building that will house two commercial spaces on the first floor and two residential apartments on the second floor.

  • Southwest Corner (701, 703 and 705 Otisco Street):

The new construction of two LEED certified single family properties.

Conclusion

Nearly a century of regrettable public policy including large scale urban renewal, high speed highways through urban centers, and redlining have resulted in the impoverishment of Syracuse’s inner city neighborhoods.  This project focuses on Syracuse’s Near Westside, specifically three sites on an intersection in census tract 30 which has suffered from a list of negative social indicators, more so than any other neighborhood in the City, including elevated high school dropout rates, low employment, little private investment, a transient residential population, high rates of crime and entrenched poverty. These conditions put the residents of this community in an unfavorable position to improve their lives. 

Yet, this neighborhood remains resilient. This project is part of a comprehensive neighborhood plan centered on the idea that for it to thrive, an area of concentrated poverty has to transform to a neighborhood where families across a range of incomes are willing to live.  This project will bring two market rate units and two rentals at fair market plus six additional town homes that will be affordable for people earning up to 112% of the area median income.  This infusion of new residents from across the income spectrum will serve to help de-concentrate poverty.  The project will also provide sustainable energy and other commercial services to improve the marketability and long term health of the neighborhood.

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