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Hotel Syracuse pilot program will help restore landmark to its former glory

George F
via Flickr

Syracuse lawmakers agreed to a pilot program Monday that will ease the tax burden for developers renovating the historic Hotel Syracuse.

City Deputy Commissioner for Development Ben Walsh says this is a big step in moving the project forward.

“The project is complicated, and frankly, as expensive as this, it needs as much certainty and predictability as possible," Walsh said. "And that’s what the pilot provides. It provides a certain payment for a period of time when the hotel is most vulnerable in it’s initial years of operation.”

Walsh also says this doesn’t mean the developer, Ed Riley of the Syracuse Hotel Restoration Group, won’t be paying any taxes for the duration of the tax deal.

“While it’s a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, the payment that they are going to be making on an annual basis for the first ten years of the agreement is the equivalent to what the property owes in taxes today," Walsh explained. "So the pilot eases the pain associated in the increase of the assessment that comes when the improvements are made.”

Walsh says this move will keep tax bills at the current level for 10 years. After that the owner will pay full taxes on the property that's been vacant for more than a decade. The starting assessment is just over $1 million, and it’s expected to go up to more than $14 million once Riley and the Hotel Restoration Group spends $57 million to restore the hotel to it’s former glory.

The current plan is to reopen a 261-room hotel. Walsh says work is still slated to begin in January of next year.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.