$100 million for amphitheater, housing coming to Solvay

Jan 29, 2014

A combined $100 million redevelopment project for the western side of Onondaga Lake will bring new housing and street upgrades to the village of Solvay and a 17,000 seat entertainment venue to the shoreline of the lake.

It's not the project Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney hoped to bring Gov. Andrew Cuomo to town to announce, but when Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner derailed Mahoney's and Syracuse University's idea for a new athletic stadium in the city, the county executive quickly shifted to this one.

"This project hits it exactly right," said Cuomo.

The state will put in $30 million for the project. Another $50 million will come from new Indian casino gambling revenue the county will collect, Mahoney said.

An artist rendering of what the amphitheater could look like.
An artist rendering of what the amphitheater could look like.
Credit artist rendering / EDR

The amphitheater will be perched on a piece of land that juts into the lake across from the state fairgrounds. It will include dock space for boats to pull up to. It will provide views, Mahoney said, "that you never knew existed."

The exact design of the venue will be determined through a design competition, but Mahoney said work will begin this year and completed in 2015.

What this new venue means for the future of the fairground's grandstand has not been determined, Mahoney and Cuomo said.

The entertainment venue is just one piece of the project and Mahoney spent several minutes at Wednesday's announcement going over the other aspects.

"There's small projects as part of this, medium sized projects, large projects. There will be something for everyone," she said.

The county will spend $10 million on new housing in Solvay, half on senior housing and half on market-rate homes. There will be money for facade improvements to older homes.

Bridge Street will be turned into a "complete street," Mahoney said, much like Syracuse's Connective Corridor project. It will be made more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Before making the announcement, Cuomo got a tour and history lesson of Solvay.

The western side of Onondaga Lake is still cleaning up the "residue" of its industrial past, Cuomo later said, when chemical and salt plants dominated the landscape, "but today is a new day. This project is just the cherry on the cake saying it’s a new day, that Lake Onondaga is as clean as it is as quickly as it is," Cuomo said.

Asked after his speech whether this project is as good for central New York as a new athletic stadium would be, Cuomo said: "I don't know what the stadium proposal would of been."

He later added: "I know this project is real and we're going forward with this project."

New York state was reportedly ready to spend $200 million to help build a new athletic stadium in downtown Syracuse that would have played host in part to Syracuse University athletics. The project was shelved, though, when Mayor Miner objected over a lack of information about it.

Miner has formed a task force to study the idea of a new stadium. Cuomo told reporters next year is another year and we'll see what happens in the future.