Downtown Committee Project Aims to Attract Retailers to Vacant Spaces

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- If one were to take a stroll in downtown Syracuse, they may notice many available storefronts. But according to Downtown Committee Economic Development Program Manager Heather Schroeder, that number has decreased over the past few years.

"Last year in December, I did a vacant property survey and there were about 70 vacancies at the street level. We're seeing that increase in retail activity, but there are still some spaces available," said Schroeder.

From December 2015 to December 2016, the Downtown Committee of Syracuse says there were 14 less vacant storefronts at street level. And, to attract more businesses to fill the empty spots behind the windows, they're adding a splash of color with the works of local artists.

"The art helps to showcase the spaces in a different light. These might be spaces that you've passed by before in your travels around downtown and you've never really noticed them. The art really catches your eye. It really makes you look twice and look past the artwork into the space beyond and imagine the possibilities," said Schroeder.

Artists Daniele Profeta and Maya Alam created pieces in the Flagship Securities Building and in the Pike Block. Sean Hunter Horan’s work is also featured in the Pike Block.

"The intention behind this was to create and multiply the relationship that exists between the existing empty storefront and the downtown area of Syracuse," Profeta said of his design.

"People want to be downtown, it's the hub of activity. As employers move in, there's a greater demand for retail. Also, we've seen a huge increase in our residential population over the last ten years and with the residents, comes the demand for different amenities," said Schroeder.

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