I-81 The Inside Scoop: New Infographic Shows How Street-Level Solution Would Enhance Ongoing Downtown Revitalization
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Syracuse, NY - Today, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse released a new infographic, I-81: The Inside Scoop, educating the community about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recharge the city center. Creating a vibrant, new street-level boulevard in the space currently occupied by the Interstate 81 viaduct paves the way for future development opportunities, providing the greatest potential to revitalize Syracuse. The needs of the community have changed dramatically since the elevated portion of interstate was built more than 50 years ago. The region needs to focus on the development of a complete transportation system that reflects local and national trends, allows multiple points for accessing destinations, and lays the foundation for creating a vibrant community. If the goal of the community is to generate new, sustainable and long-term tax revenue for Syracuse and Onondaga County, we must look at which alternative will set the groundwork for growth to occur, and not rely on a one-road solution.
“We know this is a very complex issue, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to understand the options as they relate to ongoing revitalization in Downtown Syracuse,” said Merike Treier, Downtown Committee of Syracuse executive director. “The center city is the economic engine that fuels this region. Removal of this elevated highway provides the greatest opportunity to better connect and nurture the significant investment currently underway in University Hill and Downtown Syracuse. As a community, we need to create an environment that not only encourages future development, but also speaks to the quality of life Syracuse can provide, and residents are proud of. We need a place that’s going to attract our next generation of leaders. They want a progressive city. We want a progressive city.”
Removing the 1.4 mile section of elevated highway provides the foundation to foster future investment and presents a functional, safe and efficient solution for motorists and pedestrians. Coupled with investments to the city street grid, a street-level solution will facilitate development among major employers, and enhance the region’s economic vitality by creating a vibrant community. Among the cited goals, the Downtown Committee believes the removal of the viaduct will restore connections between Downtown Syracuse and University Hill neighborhoods, creating a framework leading to a vibrant neighborhood that improves the quality of life for employees, residents and visitors. The Downtown Committee’s vision of the street-level boulevard includes enhanced access to popular destinations, such as the Carrier Dome, to reduce congestion points and encourage better traffic flow for motorists and mass transit transportation.
BRIEF EXPLANATION OF INFOGRAPHIC:
PROPERTY VALUE: As the Downtown Committee identifies in the new infographic, the shaded area between Downtown Syracuse and University Hill represents lost property value. Property values decrease the closer you get to the viaduct. Rebuilding the viaduct would cost the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County $431.4 million in lost property taxes over the estimated lifespan of the viaduct. To rebuild the viaduct to meet federal safety requirements, anywhere from 12 to 40 downtown buildings would need to be demolished, including prominent historic sites. This would result in a $3.3 million loss for the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County in taxes each year.
THE OPPORTUNITY: Removing the visual and physical barriers of the existing viaduct will reconnect the city’s core and enhance Downtown Syracuse and University Hill neighborhoods. Historic sites would be preserved. A street-level boulevard will uncover seven acres (304,750 square feet!) of developable real estate.
THE VALUE: Imagine how activating seven new acres of land beneath the existing viaduct could transform the center of our city, and continue to shape the streetscape for years to come. A street-level boulevard - lined with additional commercial space, new residential units, premium restaurants, and retailers – could generate as much as $5.4 million in new property taxes every year. With the additions of green space, blocks of bicycle paths, and miles of walkable space, a vibrant boulevard will be attractive to all who live, work, and visit Downtown Syracuse.
The Downtown Committee's Scoping Statement to NYSDOT
Downtown Committee's Goals for the Future of the Interstate 81 Viaduct
Executive Director Merike Treier’s Public Statement at I-81 Scoping Meeting