Affordable housing will replace old Syracuse north side brewery

Nov 14, 2012

An affordable housing organization is moving forward with plans to build a mixed-use, low-income housing project on Syracuse's north side where a brewery once stood.

The Otisca Building was first built in the 1800s and was home to the Ryan Brewery. Towards the end of its life it was home to a company that made fuel, but the building had been shuttered for decades and was demolished earlier this year.

Now Housing Visions has won the approval of Syracuse's development agency to build affordable housing on the site along Butternut Street.

Construction will begin next year on a three-story building that will house 20 one-bedroom apartments with street-level commercial space. The building will open about about a year later, according to Housing Visions' Ben Lockwood. The group will rename the site Otisca Commons.

The housing organization is also moving forward with a similar project on the city's south side where it purchased vacant property along South Salina Street.

"Our experience with the units that we've built and developed over time here in Syracuse is that there's just a tremendous need for affordable rental housing in the city," Lockwood says.

The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA), which granted the projects a ten year break on property tax increases, is hopeful the north side site will benefit that neighborhood's growing immigrant population.

"If you drive by [the site], there’s probably 60 different nations represented there at any given time," says SIDA chairman Bill Ryan. "So I think the potential for this to be the cliché win-win-win for everybody certainly does exist."

Housing Visions has worked with the immigrant and refugee community on the north side as well as other community groups, Lockwood says.

"I think anything that addresses the needs of people of less means with good quality housing and the management that has to go along with it, I think addresses a lot of the needs of the community," he says.