Vacant Buildings in Downtown Syracuse

Standing on East Onondaga St. is the newly-renovated Marriott Syracuse Downtown, a historical and grand hotel which was called Hotel Syracuse before. Its reopen attracted people’s attention for not only is it such a luxurious renovation that cost $57 million, but also it has been abandoned for more than 10 years. The unveiling of the old hotel sparked people’s nostalgia as well as the reflection on the vacant building in down Syracuse: why would a spacious commercial building be abandoned for such a long time? Are there any other vacant buildings in downtown?

Actually the Hotel Syracuse is just a miniature of the vacant buildings in downtown. When you wander in downtown Syracuse, it’s just hard to ignore those vacant buildings. This small business zone surprisingly has almost 20 buildings out of 104 and 70 spots which are supposed to be stores and offices, making the 18% vacancy rate(industrial offices are excluded). And here is the distribution of these buildings.

According to Syracuse Office Market Review, the office vacancy rate in downtown Syracuse decreased from 29.1% in 2011 to 26% in 2014. The rate peaked at 36.8% in 2012, but it rapidly plummeted to 26% in 2014. Meanwhile, the department of numbers released a report which showed that the gross rent in downtown Syracuse kept stable in recent four years,the change was within in $50.

When there’s no favorable subsidy on rent as an appealing element, then what might caused the re-utilization in downtown Syracuse? “I would attribute the decline in office vacancy to changing consumer preferences in the real estate market,” said Heather Schroeder,the Economic Development Program Manager. “Talented employees want to live or work in a more engaging setting, so to compete for talent, companies choose to locate in those settings.”

Some suburban companies, like engineering firm O’Brien and Gere, relocated to downtown today.Heather believed that it was because they realized it would help attract a younger workforce. “Younger employees want to be close to the action,” said Heather. “They appreciate being able to walk to lunch or happy hour and meet up with other young professionals, rather than being isolated in a less accessible suburban office park.We also start to see an agglomeration economy where several businesses in the same field share a talent pool and that pool also grows as each company expands.”