Syracuse officials optimistic after South Salina Street building collapse

Feb 8, 2016

Last week was a bad week for historic buildings in Syracuse.  First, the city’s Land Bank demolished what was known as the Gothic Cottage, a more than 150-year-old historic home on South Salina Street.  A day later, a portion of a more than century old four-story brick building on South Salina Street’s 300 block collapsed. The building was vacant, but created a gaping hole and a dangerous situation for anyone who ventured nearby. The city demolished the building over the weekend. But as historic preservationists mourn the loss of these dilapidated structures, they’re also look toward the future.

The city land bank hopes the lot created by the demolition of the Gothic Cottage, and a neighboring church, will become an attractive property for developers of affordable housing  down the road.  The future of the space created by the loss of 331 South Salina is a little more complicated.

"We certainly hate to see missing teeth if you will, in that streetscape," said Kate Auwaerter, Preservation Planner for the city of Syracuse.

Auwaerter notes the demolition will leave a hole in one of the city’s most iconic blocks, one that has been designated as an historic district, and that it was a contributing factor to the historic streetscape.  But after attempts by the city to at least save the facade proved dangerous, it was clear the building had to go. So looking to the future, she says one positive is there is an empty lot next to 331, which would make it easier to insert a new building into that location.

“Because the revitalization of downtown is as strong as it is, my hope would be these now two lots, vacant in this space, would not remain vacant forever,” said Auwaerter. “That it will become the site of some new creative infill.”

She says robust redevelopment projects across the street and a few doors down could make this property  very attractive to developers.  The challenge is to make sure the pieces of any new building work together and fit with the historic streetscape.

“So that the setback is the same, so that there is still a sense of a continuous street frontage.  But it’s completely fine to have modern buildings inserted into historic landscapes.”