PACNY Supports Community Grid Option for I-81 Project

The Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) supports the community grid option for the Interstate 81 viaduct project. This approach best aligns with the organization’s goal of retaining historic buildings and existing urban infrastructure that supports the long-term economic vitality of the city and region.

“PACNY advocates for the preservation and viable use of historic places,” says John Auwaerter, PACNY vice president. “The community grid provides an unprecedented opportunity to increase the viability of historic buildings, streets, and landscapes in our urban core. It is critical to reviving Syracuse’s historic, walkable neighborhoods that have been decimated by failed urban renewal programs and highway construction over the past 60 years.”

In discussing the project options, PACNY rejects the “ReBuild Viaduct Option,” which, because of faster federal highway design standards, would increase the size of the viaduct. It also would require the demolition of 24 additional properties, including at least 12 irreplaceable, historically significant buildings. It would also lead to adverse noise and other environmental impacts across a much broader area that includes many more historic properties, including Oakwood Cemetery. PACNY does not support demolition of historic buildings for highway projects in the city of Syracuse that would destroy our history and lower land values through the center of the urban core.

The planning recommendations of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) CNY I-81 Task Force, changing trends in Federal Highway Administration standards for the future of urban areas, and national Urban Planning and Design “best practices” standards all support the “Community Grid Option” as the best long-term planning option for Syracuse and the Central New York region.


In addition, the “Community Grid Option” comes with a call for the NYSDOT to return the land to the city of Syracuse for redevelopment once the elevated highway comes down. That would enable up to 20-plus acres of former DOT land to be returned to the city for redevelopment, increasing city land values, promoting long-term economic development and growth, improving pedestrian safety, reducing traffic speeds and congestion through urban areas—factors that all contribute to the future viability of Syracuse’s historic urban core. Read full resolution here. 

PASCNY was founded in 1977 and covers Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, Cortland, Cayuga and Oneida counties. The organization is dedicated to the preservation of the historic resources of Central New York that are essential to the cultural and economic well-being of the community. It works independently and in cooperation with other civic organizations and preservation groups to produce and disseminate information on the value of historic preservation throughout the CNY region.


PACNY Is Now On Instagram!

In addition to our Facebook and Twitter pages (linked on the right of this page), you can now follow us at ‘preserve_cny’ on Instagram to see what we are up to!  We have a lot of great things planned for the second half of 2018 so keep your eyes out for upcoming announcements!

Call Your Federal Representatives! Tell Them Why Historic Tax Credits Are Crucial To Redevelopment

Federal Historic Tax Credits (HTC) have been instrumental to the revitalization and redevelopment of downtown Syracuse over the past several years, and Centerstate CEO president Robert Simpson has been one of the strongest advocates for their use. In response to threats that the current tax reform plan in Congress, Simpson stated the following on PACNY’s email list:

I cannot say it strongly enough: this program is critical to our continued reinvestment in our urban core, to the revitalization of older cities and to all of our efforts not just in Syracuse but across Upstate New York.

We (our community) have literally used this tool dozens upon dozens of times, not just in downtown but in almost every neighborhood in the City. In small projects and large projects. For developers and for homeowners. It is a truly brilliant public policy/smart growth tool that encourages re-investment in the very places where sprawl has created disinvestment over decades. It is also, up until now, a highly predictable and consistent tool that businesses, homeowners and developers can count on as they examine the financial feasibility of these revitalization projects. To lose it would be an absolute travesty for our City and all Upstate NY communities. In anticipation of tax reform of some kind, we have been talking to Congressman Katko (and other Upstate NY representatives) about this issue for some time. He is fully supportive of KEEPING the credit, as are Senators Schumer and Gillibrand.

Ironically, at the very same time that some in Washington are looking to do away with this program that has triggered billions of reinvestment in our Cities, we are having the opposite conversation in Albany. As you recall, NYS established a parallel tax credit program that mirrors the federal credit at the state level several years ago. That program can be stacked on top of the federal credit, which has closed the “gap” on dozens of projects like the Hotel Syracuse, the Dietz Building, the Pike Block and so many others. That program is set to expire in January of 2019 and so we are making a strong push for NYS to reauthorize it in this coming legislative session so that there is no lag when the program’s future is in jeopardy. The Governor’s office has been a huge advocate for that, and for finding new and creative ways to make the program work even better. This is an issue where we have had support from our entire CNY state delegation over the years.

This program works. We need it.

Representatives will be in their districts October 27 to 30. Please consider inviting them to tour a Historic Tax Credit project. Engage municipal officials and local developers in meeting with Representatives in their district office. Contact information for your representatives is online here  and senators here.

Learn more about the tax credits with this video posted at the National Trust for Historic Preservation website. It starts with President Ronald Reagan in 1981 praising the program and explaining how it will return federal dollars to local communities.