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Syracuse Council approves Tech Garden lease, downtown mural, police at Skyline Apartments

Frank Malfitano Facebook
A rendering of the proposed mural in downtown Syracuse featuring Earl Lloyd, Dolph Schayes, Breanna Stewart and Manny Breland.

The Syracuse Common Council has approved extending a long-term lease for the Syracuse Tech Garden, which clears the way for a nearly $17 million expansion of the city-owned property. The council also approved a police detail at a notorious apartment complex, and the funding for a new downtown mural.

The Tech Garden startup business incubator, will pay $1 a year for 20 years at their downtown location. CenterState CEO, which runs the Tech Garden, will create a $250,000 revolving loan fund to entice its startup companies to stay in the city. Councilor-at-Large Michael Greene tried for weeks to negotiate a lease where the city gets some revenue from a new roof deck being built, that could be used by private businesses. CenterState refused and ultimately, Greene was just one of two councilors to vote against the lease.

“The real issue is that CenterState fundamentally believes that the taxpayers that own this facility, should not be entitled to any revenue whatsoever,” Greene said. 

The lease does say it will need to be amended if CenterState generates revenue that does not directly support startups or its incubation services.

The Council also authorized an agreement with the owner of Skyline Apartments, for the city to provide a police detail. Skyline has attracted drugs and violence over the years, described by the mayor as having inhumane living conditions and was the location of a recent murder of a 93-year-old woman. Police will be deployed from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week for six months. Councilor-at-Large Ronnie White Jr. said while he appreciates the effort, questions remain.

“We need to hear testimony at some point, from administration officials and others, to find out how this was allowed to happen, why this was allowed to go on so long, and what the administration is going to do to ensure situations like this do not rise again,” White said.

The owner of Skyline will reimburse the city for the costs of the police detail, including fringe benefits. The owner still needs to sign the deal.

Finally, the Council approved spending $75,000 on a new downtown mural of four remarkable basketball players with ties to the area. The mural is meant to highlight their contributions to social and racial justice and gender equity.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.