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Progress Toward Transforming Former Syracuse Developmental Center Site Into Vibrant, Mixed-Use Development

Governor Hochul: “We also have to continue tackling affordability for New Yorkers… Supply and demand, are basic economics, right? Shortage of supply, the prices go up… So as a result, it's just more expensive here than it should be. So that's one of the reasons that we want to stop that burden on hardworking families. So, at the state level, higher level, we have incentives to build more multifamily homes.”

Hochul: “We want to make sure that people can live in the communities they serve. It comes down to affordability, making sure that neighborhoods are vibrant places for people and commerce. And places like Syracuse, we need to continue making real investments in cities like Syracuse.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced progress toward the $100 million transformation of the former Syracuse Developmental Center into a vibrant, mixed-use development in the city of Syracuse. Demolition work has commenced at 800-2 S. Wilbur Avenue, making way for more than 250 new homes, 7.5 acres of green space, and 3,600 square feet of retail commercial space as part of the first phase of construction to redevelop the site. The project, which is receiving up to $29 million in state funding, will help to support the statewide goals of increasing New York’s housing supply with new market-rate and affordable options and establishing a regional job hub to help drive the local economy.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning. Thank you so much. Thank you for the warm welcome. Once again, back here. You know this place has a special place in my heart. Hail Orange. I've been a couple years, actually four years, I actually completed it. But I still think back to the days as I walked into a Bronx pizzeria the other day. I said, “I know how to do this. I worked at the Varsity. I'm a pro.” So, they taught me how to make pizzas, but I somehow got booted out of the kitchen, and the main response that they gave me was to call out the numbers when the pizzas were ready. I think that's all they thought I could handle, which is probably the right thing.

With that, let me just introduce some of the incredible people who are here today. And first of all, starting with our mayor. Mayor, I want to thank you for having the vision to say, “Not just why, but why not?” Why not have an incredible transformation— we're talking about here today. So, ladies and gentlemen, let's give another round of applause to our Mayor, Ben Walsh. Common Councilmember  Patrona Jones-Rowser, thank you for your leadership of this great community. And many the local officials here today.

But I'm going to give a special bit of love to my State Representatives. We just came through another great session – tremendous accomplishments for the people of the State of New York, and a governor does not do it alone. It is in partnership with the individuals that represent this great community in particular. I want to thank Senator John Mannion. Thank you for all you've done for us. Incredible ally, great partner in delivering for Central New York. Senator Rachel May has joined us as well. Senator, thank you. Thank you for your support of this great community. Assemblymember Al Stirpe has joined us. Assemblymember – a great voice for the neighborhoods and this community as well. And also, Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, we've walked your district many times. You're going to hear from Janice McKenna – probably the most patient person in the world – the President of the Tipperary Hill Association. Let's give her a round of applause. Central New York RADC Co-chair, LeMoyne College President, Linda LeMura. Thank you very much for everything you do for the RADC. And I get a special chance to say hi to Van Robinson. Where are you sitting there, Van? Van Robinson. Van Robinson. Former Council President Linda Brown Robinson. The last time Van and I were together, where were we, Van? Sitting at the President's State of the Union Address together. Okay, we were right there cheering on our President, right? We were the loudest cheering section. So great to be with so many friends. And I also know that Greg Lancette has joined us. Greg, where are you? The President of the New York State Pipe Trades. We got some important work done over the last couple years. And more and more work to come.

Also, let's talk about something that I'm not afraid to talk about at all, and that's housing. This year's Budget, we reached an historic agreement on housing in the State of New York, driving new constructions, more jobs, protecting tenants, unlike anything we've done in 50 years because nobody had the guts to take it on. It was not easy. We had to work through a lot of hurdles but working with your representatives, we got it done and delivered for the people of this great State. I want to thank them for all their work and we're not afraid of a good fight.

We also have to continue tackling affordability for New Yorkers. Everything. What happens is the shortage of housing – supply and demand – they're teaching that over at Le Moyne College, I know that for sure. Supply and demand, basic economics, right? Shortage of supply, the prices go up. And places that were once known as affordable – Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, all those national trends – everybody's said, “This is the place to go” – started sliding as we didn't build enough to meet the demand. So as a result, it's just more expensive here than it should be. So that's one of the reasons that we want to stop that burden on hardworking families.

So, at the state level, higher level, we have incentives to build more multifamily homes. We have $500 million in state money to build more on state land. I decided that the easiest thing I can do is say “That's under the jurisdiction of the State. We can do more here.” And that's so exciting to me, whether it's former prisons, whether it's places that had been psychiatric centers and places that just had lost their luster, still under the control of the State. Why not let them be homes for people? So that's what we're focusing on as well. We have $600 million more in capital funding for housing overall. Thank you to our friends in the Legislature as well. And over $650 million set aside for communities that have stood up and said, “We are pro housing community. We are inclusive. We don't put up barriers. We want people to come into our communities, not put-up roadblocks to having them come in, putting up walls.” And pro housing communities, and one of them is Syracuse, and I thank them for stepping up as well.

So, it’s all on top of a $25 billion commitment to add more supply on top of what we have already. So, here's what we have to do. We want to make sure that people can live in the communities they serve. It comes down to affordability, making sure that neighborhoods are vibrant places for people and commerce. And places like Syracuse, we need to continue making real investments in cities like Syracuse.

Look what we just did last week, we cut the ribbon on the redeveloped Moyer Carriage and Car Factory. That took a little while to get done as well. People gave up on it, but we say, no, we can get that done. Again, vision from the city, supplemented with support from the State of 128-unit mixed-use, affordable and supportive housing. That's what I'm talking about – more and more projects like that. In the last five years, our housing community renewal agency has created or preserved more than 2,500 affordable homes here in Onondaga County.

So, that's the past. Let's talk about where we're going in the future. Today, I'm here to cheer on some of the most exciting news we've had in a long time, other than perhaps one that's up in Clay – the demolition and redevelopment of the Syracuse Developmental Center after 25 years of being shut down, shuttered, blighted. We’re getting it done.

And Mayor Walsh, you never know what happens over a cup of coffee at the Little Gem Diner. Because we sat together. I was a brand-new Governor. “Mayor, what do you have on your mind?” “Oh, just a small project. Won't take much.” And I was so committed after hearing his vision for how we need to save communities from having eyesores and blights and a sense that they don't matter, our community would let this go on for so many years, without standing up and saying, why haven't we done something about this? We're going to leave it like this for the next 50 years, 100 years? Who's going to stop the decay that's going in our own communities and holding us back?

Visitors to this vibrant community have to witness this, the people who live there. Going to the zoo, this is what you see? Come on, we're better than that, right? After that visit, I said, yes, we're going to do what we can, and we said we can transform this derelict project. Forty-seven acres to high quality, mixed-use, mixed-income housing to revitalize this critically important part, this vital part of Syracuse. That's exactly what we're doing.

When this place closed in 1998, it became a magnet for vandalism – 600,000 square feet sitting there, attracting all kinds of things. I went up there and we saw the graffiti on the walls. I'm not sure there would be any escaped animals from the zoo that have just been living there for 25 years and nobody noticed – just putting that out there. But it just weighed down this community. Just weighed it down, it went on too long. And finally, something is being done with it.

So, the State of New York committed $29 million to start the demolition because you can have all the plans you want in the world. Here, look at these great plans, and the Mayor showed me, the plans are amazing. But the cost of taking down the buildings, and remediating, and putting in the sewers and the road – everything you need to do, that's usually pretty expensive. And that's why so much does not get done. That's what we need to do. We said we will make that happen. The State is so vested in this part of our State. We will get this done.

Phase 1 – we're committing $100 million to build 230 new units of affordable workforce housing. Workforce is my favorite word. Get people here, give them a home and get them a job. And by the time we're done with this three-phase project, we'll have over 400 units between beautiful townhomes and apartments and people of different incomes living together and people who are working. It's going to be an incredibly vibrant community, and we knit them together.

We also need some green space set aside, right? Need to be able to just play a little bit, walk around barefoot on the grass, recharges the soul. 7.5 acres of green space, how about some nice retail, get a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning, get your newspaper. 3,600 worth of square feet as well as a technology space, and we're working on what that's going to look like.

Look what we're going from. This is going to be one of the legacies of this community. A community that never gave up on itself, who said, yes, the years have passed, yes, those who came before us didn't have the ambition to do something, but that's not who we are. That's not who we are in 2024 in Central New York and in the city of Syracuse, in the State of New York. That's not who we are. We're moving forward. We're lifting communities up. We're making a difference in people's lives.

And we have to build more housing for another reason, because I promised Micron I'd find a house for all their workers. So, you have to help me. You have to help me, communities, all around. Some people come from parts of our country, they don't think twice about an hour commute in the morning, hour and a half some places. So, think big. Other communities can step up and be homes for people that are doing very well, some of them, and some are just starting off, but those are our kids. That's where our kids will be able to live.

I am sad to say that when I graduated from Syracuse University, I wanted to stay in this State, and I stuck around for a little while. Ended up in Washington. All my siblings, Irish-Catholic big family, not one of them could stay in Upstate New York. Not because they didn't love it, but they couldn't find jobs. What a transformation in one generation. Where we have jobs, we need to get the people to come back or stay here. That's everything.

With Micron coming, 50,000 new jobs, we need more housing, we need more educational opportunities. we need more infrastructure, we need child care – we're building something brand new here. This is like the Erie Canal. I spent a lot of time on the Erie Canal. You don't know that's me out on the water. I love the Erie Canal.

This is a significant change in the character of a community in a region that we’ve never seen the likes of in the last 200 years. And you'll remember I was there. You'll say I was there when it all happened. When we finish this project, when we finish Micron, get Micron started — that's 20 years down the road. When we get that started, all the other supply chain industries that want to come and be here, all the young people of all ages who say, “This is the place to be for the semiconductor revolution.”

We literally had the King and Queen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Governor's Residence just a couple days ago in Albany. Why'd they come to Albany? Yes, we know it was founded by the Dutch 400 years ago — that's a good reason right there, okay, we got it. They came to talk about semiconductors.

Because the synergy between what they do with their major companies, ASML is a big provider to what we're doing here, all across the State of New York. They knew when they heard about Micron as well, they knew that we were just more than talk. This is real. This is tangible. We are going to be the epicenter of innovation when it comes to semiconductors, and we'll partner with these other global countries who know we are the ones.

So that is what I'm talking about. This spreads beyond our own neighborhoods, beyond our own community. We are now being nationally recognized because of our commitment at the federal level, the state level, the county level. The city levels, the community levels — and the community that believes in itself to be able to recruit the largest private sector investment in American history.

You got it done. And Rob Simpson, thank you. Thank you for believing in this community the way you do.

So, we’ll get more done. We'll get more child care. We've invested $7 billion dollars in child care. Micron is building a child care facility as we speak, as we ask them to do. We doubled the level of tuition assistance as well and make it available for part time students, so more people, more young people, can get their education — afford to be part of that pipeline of new jobs that are being created.

And we're investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the next tech revolution. Artificial intelligence with Empire AI. We're going to put the power of supercomputers that right now are only in the hands of the biggest companies, privately held companies. We are bringing that to students and researchers all over the State of New York.

No other State has that ambition, but we do. We announced that in our State of the State. The legislature supported it. Thank you again. And we're getting it done. This is what puts us on the map. So, we're done talking about the Rust Belt. I don't want to hear that anymore. Getting tired of that. It's the I-90 Tech Corridor.

And the key to all this? Tearing down buildings like this. Building up new housing. Tearing down the I-81 via duct, with $180 million dollars from the State of New York. You tear down the old buildings, the old structures and you build new. That's what it is. Tear down and build. Tear down and build. And build up neighborhoods where people can thrive.

And tearing down, once and for all — that feeling that the world has passed us by, that Upstate didn't matter. No, while they can say that out there, what we're doing is we're building the economies and the communities of the future. So, watch out world. We are back. We are back.

And I am so excited to be here today. And I want to thank everybody who's been an incredible part of us. We are the place people want to live, work, and recreate. It's right here going on in Central New York. So, thank you everybody. Thank you.

And with that, one of the most persuasive people I've ever met. Our great mayor, Mayor Ben Walsh.

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